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Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Food and Family Myth

This is a cross post.
Last night, I began reading Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, thanks for the encouragement, Jane Ann.

Here is an excerpt from the Author's Note:

Storytelling, in my family, was highly prized. While my father walked home from work he rearranged the events of his day to make them more entertaining, and my mother could make a trip to the supermarket sound like an adventure. [from what I've read about the author's mother so far, it probably was an adventure] If this required minor adjustments of fact, nobody much minded: it was certainly preferable to boring your audience.

The good stories, of course, were repeated endlessly until they took on a life of their own...

Isn't that tempting? Near the end of the Author's Note, Reichl writes, "Everything here is true, but it may not be entirely factual." Then she takes off on the first chapter, titled The Queen of Mold. I haven't gotten very far yet, but a few chapters on have fallen in love with Aunt Birdie and Alice.

This book is about the appreciation of food, but also about family and personal myth. Every family has these, but Reichl's family is unusually eccentric and creative, and therefore, perfect fodder for a book, or in her case, several books.

One of those happy synchronicitous developments: Reichl's mother knew Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), child prodigy, violinist, composer. After putting down Tender at the Bone, and picking up The Light Years again, the Duchy and Sid are discussing Menuhin and his performances in the 1930's. Love the way that some books about entirely different times, in different countries, about different topics...sometimes just mesh in unexpected ways.


  1. Let me see if I have this correct - You are reading two books and they both mention this child prodigy that most of the rest of the world has never even heard of?! What a funny coincidence?

    Tender of the Bone sounds quite delightful. Another book for the list and another from Jenclair. This happens all too frequently. You really do find some interesting books.

  2. Ohhh, Jenclair, I am so happy you are enjoying "Tender of the Bone". I have it sitting here on my bookshelf and a good recommendation from you is all I need to take it off the shelf, except, it might have to wait until I've progressed somewhat with the current reading challenge.

  3. booklogged - this happens all the time to me. I once checked out about 6 books randomly, and 4 of them mentioned Paracellcus. Or out of 10 books, 5 will mention a certain breed of dog, be set in a location I've never read about before, mention the same historical event, etc. I know it is just coincidence, but when it happens, I love it.

    Lotus - And which Challenge is that? The "from the stacks"? You notice that I got my button after visiting your blog...

  4. I'm so glad you did, Jenclair and I really love your list. I'm dying to find how you will rate 'The Thirteenth Tale'!

  5. Lotus - :) I started on it tonight...and so far, I'm really enjoying it!

  6. I enjoyed your review and took the liberty of adding a link to my Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon ( You're welcome to add a link to a book review any Saturday at Semicolon.

  7. Here from semicolon.

    I've always wanted to read this book, but I never get around to picking it up, or reading it if I actually check it out from the library.

  8. Sherry - Oh, no, more book reviews to read, more titles to covet! :)

    Jennifer - I'm still enjoying it, but it isn't turning out exactly as I expected. She was really a neglected child who was lucky enough to have certain people help her develop her love of cooking --which saves her. A wry memoir of acknowlegement but not self-pity or blame. A success story.

  9. Here from Semicolon:

    I read Tender at the Bone a few months ago. I've tried a few recipes (successfully) and truly enjoyed her story-telling. The book is poignant, yet entertaining in its poignancy.

    I've also read Comfort Me With Apples. I'd like to read the most recent Reichl book.

  10. Carol - I finished the book today, and I did enjoy it, but haven't tried any of the recipes. Yes, Comfort Me with Apples is next on my list. Thanks for visiting!