Loyal, rotten food, and finding your way home

Loyal. Yes, I am loyal when it comes to good authors. If I really love a book, I usually try to read everything else they have written. Ruth Reichl is one of those authors. Tender at the Bone, being one of my favorites. Quote: “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.” This is a perfect summary of Tender at the Bone, where she grows up watching food and people, particularly her strange mother, and the often rotting food she serves to her guests.

I relate to Riechl, not so much that my mom served rotten food, but that I feel I am a starer. I love watching people, learning about them and what makes them tick. Growing up in the midwest, I was a product of the 80’s. Yes, jello mixed with whipped cream, or pears molded into jello. I could go on, but what I’ll say is that I agree with Riechl, you can definitely learn about people by watching what they eat.

I just finished Riechl’s newest book and I could not put it down. Sunday morning I woke up early and decided to snuggle up against Chris and read as much as I could before my stomach made such loud growling sounds that I would wake Chris up. 100 pages later and I still another 100 pages to go (380 pages in total), we decided to finally roll out of bed. I silently geared up for my run later in the day where I could finish the book. The book? Delicious by Ruth Reichl. This quote stood out to me the most from her book, especially the part about food and finding their way home.

“A great meal is an experience that nourishes more than the body. The feeling stayed with me. The next morning, when Mother, Mr. Jones, and I were walking through those strange, crowded downtown streets, where people were sticking their hands into pickle barrels, pointing to smoked fish, and eating sliced herring, I saw the scene in a whole new way. They weren’t buying food: They were finding their way home.” page 277

Delicious is about a girl who ventures to New York City to work for a food publication. She learns a lot about family, sisterhood, love, and so much more. Riechl has a way of weaving multiple stories into one. She shares a story between two sisters, a father and daughter, an employee and employer, and multiple co-workers, oh and somehow brings James Beard into it all. Weaved in with food, food history, and World War II. It is a definitely a book to read, and you will want to postpone your to-do list to finish it. Warning: If you liked her die-hard foodie books, this has a much softer side.

Oh, by the way, I finished Delicious on my run, and now I only wish there was a sequel. Ruth Reichl, you may have only been a non-fiction writer, but I think you just opened a world for yourself in the land of non-fiction.


Her story knocked me on my ass

There are days when I love when something knocks me on my ass. When I am challenged and I think wow, I need to hone my craft and be better. A story is a way I can be wowed. It can suck me in, make me forget what is on my To-Do list, make me want to stop everything to find out what happens next. The art of the story pushes me to learn more about myself and dig deep. A few weeks ago, I read a novel called “Barefoot Season” by Susan Mallery, about a war veteran who came home after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She struggled to acclimate herself back into civilian life. In the end it was an abused dog that brought her back to normalcy. Having the need to care for an abused animal helped her heal her own wounds, both physical and emotional. Her story sucked me in. I wanted to read on. I wanted to know more. The author did an excellent job at making you forget that you had a bathroom to clean or laundry to do. It was compelling enough that I forget my surroundings and could not wait to find out how it would end. Yes, it was a chick lit book. Yes, it was cheesy, and yet I got sucked into her story, her pain, her success.

There are times when a book will knock you on your ass because it will transform the way that you view the world. You are altered. Changed. Your filter and view of life will no longer be the same. You look at your friends, family, and neighbors with a renewed lens on life. Whether from a book you read, or from the mouth of someone you know, stories take us outside of ourselves, and often put us in another’s shoes. Whether it comes from a novel or the raw realness of life, the art of story means we are never the same.