plum the depths

Ruth Reichl knows about good food, and she knows good food writing. After years as the food critic for The New York Times, and then for years before at the Los Angeles Times, she decided to accept the job as Editor-in-Chief at Gourmet magazine.

Reichl had a long relationship with Gourmet, from when she first found the magazine in a dusty used bookstore on an outing with her book designer father, through the years it lost its unique voice, through to her reign as editor. She was able to bring back the spark that Gourmet had, to let her creative team run wild with imagination and panache. She inspired the best young writers to its pages. She brought life to its covers. She helped unite the chefs of New York in celebrations and in charity work.

Save Me the Plums is her memoir of her decade at Gourmet, from her early days where she felt she was out of her depth, through the years where the magazine recaptured its spirit and its voice, to the final days, where nothing was able to save the magazine from the depths of the nation’s financial devastation.

Reichl’s stories are beautifully told, filled with textures and flavors, nuance and surprise, and just like the best gourmet meal, a dash of magic. I love reading her stories. She has a way of explaining how things change as they stay the same and how you can move forward by staying in place. And that story of Paris and the black dress? Absolutely breathtaking!

If you’ve read Ruth Reichl before, then you know how special her writing is. You should buy this and devour it immediately. If you’ve not read her before, then my advice is the same. Start with this one, or a different memoir, or her novel Delicious!, or one of her cookbooks (I adore her 2015 cookbook My Kitchen Year on audio—yes, I do know how that sounds, and believe me, you do want to listen to a cookbook on audio!). But give yourself the gift of Reichl’s writing. After you read one, be prepared. You’ll be left hungry for more.

Galleys for Save Me the Plums were provided by Random House through NetGalley, with many thanks.