this is an embarrassing love letter
(to ruth reichl)
i am, to put it simply, in love with ruth reichl. i discovered her through her grub street diary, which is as quaint and charming as you’d want it to be, and then began the process of reading everything she’s ever written, in reverse order.
-first was her gourmet memoir, “save me the plums,” which was fascinating to me when i first read it bc i was about to start working at conde nast and wanted to know there was a place there for messy-haired ~creative types~ who were really into food. (turns out, there is! people are nice to me!)
-next should have been “garlic and sapphires,” but it got waylaid in transit, so i’m planning to re-buy it as soon as i’m allowed inside a bookstore again.
-then came “comfort me with apples,” which is putatively about her food career but really contains a lot of juicy details about her wild affairs and pioneering-hippie life in northern california. she was friends with alice waters! she lived in a commune! she totes banged her editor! the woman was (and is) chill as hell.
-now im reading “tender at the bone,” which i feared would be boring bc it’s about ruth’s childhood and childhoods are mostly boring, but it is Not! i’m only about 30 pages in, but i’m already dreading finishing it.
i loved seeing ruth’s face in “city of gold,” the jonathan gold documentary i recently watched while making spicy-sweet sambal noodles and crying my eyes out about this lovely, brilliant man (who happens to be the first Real Person i ever interviewed IRL, at a pastrami festival in westlake, and i will never stop being grateful to my incredible first editor julia for making that happen, even though i acted as weird as possible during the interview and was also wearing a mustard-colored smock dress i regret.)
what gets me about ruth, really, is how pure and uncomplicated her relationship with food seems. this is not a woman measuring out her life in pre-apportioned weight watchers serving of boneless, skinless chicken: this is a woman who, if presented with a whole elk, would surely find a way to cook and serve it without trying to plug “1.5 servings elk” into noom. i love that shit! i don’t know what role “dieting” has played in ruth’s life, but her written work would imply approximately zero. and truly, to make your way almost through the entire oeuvre of a woman who has spent her life around food and not find a single word of self-hatred or shame is a beautiful thing.
as for me, i’m plugging along, meeting with a nutritionist via zoom once a week, trying to relearn my “hunger cues” and “fullness levels” and master various other forms of self-nourishment that your average kindergartener has on lock. im exercising a lot, which is cool, even though my whole body is constantly stiff bc i don’t know how to stretch, and this week i baked a rhubarb-blackberry crumble and allowed myself to eat two servings of it without being suffused with the kind of shame normally reserved for serial killers gaining sentience of their actions after extensive psychotherapy.
i may be in a good patch with food right now—we’ve been tentative friends for 11 whole days—but when the bad times come again, as they inevitably do, i’m planning on trying out a new maxim. “hwre”: how would ruth eat?