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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Where's Ruth when we need her?

Short of reading recipes, the second most popular food reading venue is restaurant reviews. These voyeuristic snippets are free, have no calories and can salivate you imagination. My favorite restaurant reviewer is Ruth Reichl. Prior to becoming the editor of Gourmet magazine, author of three memoirs and her fingers in the pies of many other projects; Reichl honed her skills as a restaurant reviewer. I became addicted to her prose when she wrote for the New York Times (type in her name in the NYT search engine and read away!).

Every Wednesday “we” went out. She sat across from me and we ate and talked. I always felt sated after one of her reviews and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I still read restaurant reviews but most of the reviews these days are about as exciting as reading ReMax descriptions of homes for sale.

Recently our newspaper had a review of a new Italian restaurant. Located in a suburb of our fair city; it yearned for unique twists and lasting impressions. What stood out for me were the descriptions wielded by the reviewer’s pen.

Only Captain Kidd would want to eat a pasta dish that was “admirably seagoing”.

“True to trattorias, the menu hits its highest points in the pasta section.” Then there is a description of gnocchi and risotto.

I also don’t think of my desserts as being “friendly” or “firmly flavored” and what about an “endearingly crunchy top”? It just makes me want to pinch it and say “how cute!!”

I know one must try to hook the reader- bring them back for more verbal bantering- but let’s step back and think about what we are talking about. Where’s Ruth Reichl when we need her?

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