For better or worse, almost all of us grow up at the table. It is in this setting that Ruth Reichl's brilliantly written memoir takes its form. For, at a very early age, Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world . . . ...
if you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were."
Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known for-evermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, onetime Baltimore socialite millionaress, who, for a brief but poignant moment, was retained as the Reichls' maid. Then we are introduced to Monsieur du Croix, the gourmand, who so understood and yet was awed by this prodigious child at his dinner table that when he introduced Ruth to the soufflé, he could only exclaim, "What a pleasure to watch a child eat her first soufflé!" Then, fast-forward to the politically correct table set in Berkeley in the 1970s, and the food revolution that Ruth watched and participated in as organic became the norm. But this sampling doesn't do this character-rich book justice. After all, this is just a taste.
Tender at the Bone is a remembrance of Ruth Reichl's childhood into young adulthood, redolent with the atmosphere, good humor, and angst of a sensualist coming-of-age.