Monday, March 7, 2011

Simplicity: Tender at the Bone

It is no secret. I love, love, love Ruth Reichl’s books!  If you remember my very first blog post, I mentioned that I became comfortable with my decision to move here when I found, Comfort Me With Apples, at the thrift store near my house.  I have read each of her books, though out of order, at least twice, and I have enjoyed each reading greatly.  It is not lost on me that she has spent a chunk of her life in both New York and California and has very strong feelings for both states.  This month the book group I am in decided to read, Tender at the Bone, Reichl’s first memoir of her childhood and early adulthood. 

As with all of her memoirs food is interwoven with every event of her life, sometimes shaping and other times accenting the tumbles and tribulations of her story.  Though always told with a hint of humor we quickly come to understand the difficulty of being raised in a household with her manic depressive mother, and see that cooking became a means of survival for Reichl.  A young Ruth took it upon herself to be the protector of the guests as her mother would consistently serve them food unfit to eat.  She explains her mother as “taste blind and unafraid of rot”, someone who refused to waste food, even if others would consider it spoiled.  Though the stories are always entertaining I found myself continually feeling bad for this young girl, it was not till later that her mother was labeled “manic depressive” and even with the title I doubt it helps the daughter any.

We get to travel with a young Reichl as she visits France for the first time, to Montreal where she is randomly banished to a boarding school, her college years in Michigan, and as she eventually finds home in Berkeley California living in a commune.  For me, reading Reichl gives me the push I sometimes need to try that next thing that comes along, she makes you ask yourself, why not?  Though things always seem to work out nicely, nothing ever seems handed to her, and you can tell that it is her adventurous spirit that draws the many good things into her life. 

If you are like me and read her books out of order, you have still missed nothing.  Towards the end of, Tender at the Bone, Reichl starts her path as a restaurant critic, a life choice that both her other books, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires, focus around.  As you learn about her life growing up, and her many food adventures the woman that she is now (or at least the one she represents herself as in her books) starts to form and make sense.  The adventurous eater, and descriptive writer all start to take shape as you read on through this tale of “growing up at the table”.  Because, Comfort Me With Apples, was not only the first of her books that I read, but also the first foodie book I ever read, (sending me on quite a journey as you can see) I will always have the softest spot for that title of hers, but so far all of her books have been well worth the read.  I am eagerly anticipating her next book, rumors have it that it will be focusing on her time as editor of Gourmet!

Now for the recipe:

I married a very simple man.  I mean that in only the most positive way.  Rob finds happiness in many places and it really does not take much to please him, the simplest things can make his whole week.  I envy him this trait and am continuously trying to learn it from him.  As I read through this month’s book I was trying to decide what I would be making from it, until I reached the very end, where the last recipe was for deviled eggs.  It is the most uninteresting and unexciting recipe in the whole book, and I knew without a doubt that it would make Rob’s day if he came home and I had made deviled eggs.  To him deviled eggs are for special occasions, parties, picnics, and gatherings.  They are not something that you get on a regular old workday Monday.  I could not resist.  So, sometime soon I will probably flip back through the pages of this book to make the "Oleron Berry Tart" or "Claritha’s Fried Chicken", but tonight it shall be Deviled Eggs.  Here’s to the simple things.  Enjoy.

A Happy Rob and a curious Kitty
To read what the other members of the book group had to say about this months pick check them out here.

Marion’s Deviled Eggs

Reichl talks about her friend Marion saying she “had reinvented herself in middle age and did not seem to think there was anything remarkable about it”

4 hard boiled eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
1teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ballpark mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Shell eggs, cut carefully in half lengthwise, and put yolks into a bowl.  Mash the yolks with a fork until they are smooth
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  The mixture should be thick and creamy.Fill each egg white half with the yolk mixture.  Grate a bit of pepper on top.  Refrigerate until needed.
Makes 8 deviled eggs, or about 6 servings.

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  1. I really enjoyed reading your review - makes me want to get hold of this book asap! Wasn't aware that she had such a difficult childhood, makes me respect her all the more now.

  2. I'm still to read Comfort Me with Apples but I will put it on my reading list now.

    Love that you made deviled eggs. I was hoping someone will :)

  3. One of my favorite books! My favorite part of the book is when she tastes carrot soup for the first time. It's the epitome of food on a page.

  4. Well, I was going to e-mail you, but I can't seem to find your e-mail. Your blog has become one of my favorites. I have added the link to my blog with a short write up. If you want to take a look here's the link:

    I'm looking forward to more literary inspired dishes!

  5. Mikaela- Thanks so much! I always appreciate your comments, it seems you and I have a lot of books in common. Any recommendations for me? You are right, I need to post an email on here, don't I?

    Marisa -You should definitely check it out, make sure you have the others handy too. She is a fast read and I always want to keep reading when I finish one.

    Simran- I could not resist the deviled eggs