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Download Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, by Ruth Reichl Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (16,071 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ruth Reichl Narrator: Ruth Reichl Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2005 ISBN: 9780739308776
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This delicious new volume of Ruth Reichl's acclaimed memoirs recounts her "adventures in deception," as she goes undercover in the world's finest restaurants. Reichl knows that "to be a good restaurant critic, you have to be anonymous," but when she signs up to be the most important restaurant critic in the country, at The New York Times, her picture is posted in every four-star, low-star, and no-star kitchen in town. Managers offer cash bonuses for advance notice of her visits. They roll out the red carpet whether she likes it or not. What's a critic in search of the truth to do? 

Reichl dons a frumpy blond wig and an off-season beige Armani suit. Then on the advice of a friend, an acting coach with a Pygmalion complex, she begins assembling her new character's backstory. She takes to the assignment with astonishing ardor-and thus Molly Hollis, the retired high school teacher from Birmingham, Michigan, nouveau riche from her husband's real estate speculation, is born. And duly ignored, mishandled, and condescended to by the high-power staff at Le Cirque. The result: Reichl's famous double review, first as she ate there as Molly and then as she was coddled and pampered on her visit there as Ruth, The New York Times food critic. 

When restaurateurs learn to watch for Molly, Reichl buys another wig and becomes someone else, and then someone else again, from a chic interior decorator to an eccentric redhead on whom her husband-both disconcertingly and reassuringly-develops a terrible crush. As she puts on her disguises, she finds herself changed not just superficially, but in character. She becomes Molly the schoolmarm, Chloe the seductress, and Brenda the downtown earth mother-and imagine the complexities when she dines out as Miriam, her own mother. As Reichl metes out her critical stars, she gives a remarkable account of how one's outer appearance can influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites. 

Reichl writes, "Every restaurant is a theater...even the modest restaurants offer the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while." Dancing with the Stars examines character, artifice, and excellence on the sumptuously appointed stages of the restaurant world and offers an unprecedented backstage tour of the theater where Ruth Reichl played the role of a lifetime, as the critic of record at The New York Times.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elaine Naum | 2/17/2014

    " Pleasantly surprised to find theres more to Ruth Reichl than she shows on Top Chef. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 2/8/2014

    " I thought the writing was mediocre. She was redundant and egotistical. I read 2/3 of it & couldn't do anymore. I'm not one of those people who has to finish a book... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hope | 2/3/2014

    " I enjoyed some of Garlic & Sapphires, but the book got off to the wrong note for me in its opening scenes. Reichl describes being recognized on her flight to NYC in a way that seems downright unbelievable. Many other scenes seem exaggerated and far-fetched, which is a shame, since Reichl's story should be engaging and interesting without inflation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 2/2/2014

    " Absolutely loved this book - the upsides and downsides of being a food critic. Ruth is amazing! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 1/28/2014

    " This was last month's book club read. I highly enjoyed it. It was a really interesting journey, and I especially appreciated her insights, recognizing that Brenda was the best of her and whatnot. Her musings about how to be these people without the wigs and makeup were something I could relate to, I think we all feel like that sometimes... that we wished we knew how to get rid of the worst version of ourselves and always be the best. I also must add that I am incredibly grateful I don't have to be a food critic, I could never eat that much seafood. Ever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annie Michelle | 1/23/2014

    " just love her sense of humor, great book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 1/22/2014

    " Such a fun, fantastical life of a food critic told from a relatable point of view, this book feels like a friend and inspiration all wrapped up in one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 1/15/2014

    " Shorty after I read this book, I found myself at no loss for some great foodie vernacular. My friends were very impressed. A fun read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 1/9/2014

    " This book was great just as the other two before it. However, please read Tender at the Bone first followed by Comfort me with Apples before reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine Woodman | 1/5/2014

    " Reich writes of her years as a food editor for the NYT and it is great fun to read as well as giving insights "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Virginia | 12/30/2013

    " Really 3.5 stars. Reichl is a strong writer, and I liked this book a lot, but I like her two earlier memoirs better ("Tender at the Bone" and "Comfort Me with Apples"). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robin Tuthill | 12/19/2013

    " About Ruth Reichl's 6-year tenure as New York Times food critic, when she disguised herself many times. As interesting as her take on food and restaurants, so too her insights into her personality changes when she donned various looks and was treated differently by restaurant staff. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenna | 12/8/2013

    " Loved it. She is a very entertaining writer "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy :) | 9/11/2013

    " Loved this inside look into the life of a food critic! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deanna | 3/27/2013

    " LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS BOOK!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 11/12/2012

    " I liked the stories of her disguises and the various experiences she had in the restaurants, but the recipes seemed out of place, and the ending was too abrupt. She's a good writer, but I don't think this is her best work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marshaferz | 10/28/2012

    " A very enjoyable read. Reichl's style is very pleasant, and it's nice to see the behind-the-scenes life of a reviewer. The meditations on persona are a bit less successful, but it doesn't detract from enjoyment of the book, only prevents it from being something deeper. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 8/13/2012

    " This book has a few issues- the reviews often seem repetitive (same tone and voice as the story preceding it). The recipes are fine, though I'm not sure how necessary. But overall? This is a little gem indeed. I found it extremely enjoyable to read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Crystal | 2/14/2012

    " Very nice food book. I learned a lot about food and even got some great recipe ideas. The book made me hungry. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 1/31/2012

    " Fun read about the life of a food critic in New York City. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 1/28/2012

    " Because I listened to the audiobook, its hard to tell whether or not I liked the reader or the content of the book itself. Entertaining and funny either way...or I think so, at least... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dynila | 10/30/2011

    " I listened to the audio of this last year (I'll listen to almost anything in the car) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Wilson | 6/28/2011

    " Really enjoyed. Unique like at an interesting life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ginny | 5/16/2011

    " Loved this book - such a fun read, and made me add "food critic" to my list of dream jobs! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brenbren13 | 5/14/2011

    " My sister gave me this book to read and I really enjoyed her humor and writing style. Made me hungry though:) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy Darling | 5/9/2011

    " So fun to get a look at the business of critiquing food. Wouldn't we all love to be in her shoes... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 5/7/2011

    " This is a funny book, but working at the NY Times apparently is not. While I enjoyed reading about Ruth's escapades, I began to wonder if she would ever tire of her "job." The ending did not disappoint. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 5/4/2011

    " This book was SO fun!!! I loved her witty writing style, her stories and her description of the food she ate! If you love to cook or eat or both... this is totally worth it!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie | 4/27/2011

    " Kind of abrupt ending, but very insightful read about elite foodies in NYC. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 4/26/2011

    " Awesome read for people who love food! Makes me want to try all the fab new restaurants in town!
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 4/24/2011

    " started off strong but got way too into the disguises which got boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carmie | 4/24/2011

    " Even more than her disguises she used to remain anonymous as the NY Times restaurant critic, I loved her descriptions of just tasting food. The full sensory experience of some of the dishes she experienced seemed to transport beyond time and place. I wanted to taste it all with her! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Molly | 4/23/2011

    " i thought this would be funny, and while it had it's moments, it had a much more contemplative tone. ruth reichl's food writing is outstanding and i enjoyed those passages the most, despite the fact that she mostly described courses of dead animal parts ;) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Genevieve | 4/21/2011

    " 4.5 - I really enjoyed this. Great combo of memoir, info about an interesting topic I don't know about, but would like to know more, restaurant reviews and recipes. I think it falls under the "true enough" slogan, but who cares. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 4/21/2011

    " Bookclub read. Very amusing tale of a food critic and her efforts to be anonymous. It was very interesting how she found herself assuming the characters of the disguises she assumed, and then what she learns about herself. Very well done, with some great recipes I want to try. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeanne | 4/20/2011

    " It was interesting to read about the life of a food critic, but I felt that this was a bit braggadocio. I much preferred her first book. "

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