Local food lovers wept when witty Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl left to take the top job at the New York Times. Never uppity, she wrote for everybody—people who loved a good burger or a bowl of noodles and people who followed the latest trend. From newspaper writing she went on to be editor of Gourmet magazine and then turned to writing books. Those engaging titles can be found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.
Ms. Riechl’s three memoirs are coming of age stories that are honest, funny and share her passion for food. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table explores her childhood with an eccentric mother whose inability to prepare an edible meal set the young Ruth in search of flavorful food and then to an early career as a cook. Going in another direction, she becomes a food critic in Comfort Me with Apples. Finally in Garlic and Sapphires she takes the job in New York, where she wears disguises, wigs and thrift store dresses, so she will not be recognized as she dines in and writes about restaurants.
Now turning to fiction, Ms. Reichl’s new book is called Delicious. Inspired by her time at Gourmet, this is the story of Billie, a new employee at Delicious magazine who retains her job after the publication folds. She stays on to answer letters from past readers who respond to the magazine’s entreaty: “Your money back if the recipe does not work.” Mystery, romance, food and memorable characters are the essential ingredients in this light read.