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Publisher's Summary

Garlic and Sapphires is Ruth Reichl's riotous account of the many disguises she employs to dine anonymously. There is her stint as Molly Hollis, a frumpy blond with manicured nails and an off-beige Armani suit that Ruth takes on when reviewing Le Cirque. The result: her famous double review of the restaurant: first she ate there as Molly; and then as she was coddled and pampered on her visit there as Ruth, New York Times food critic.  

What is even more remarkable about Reichl's spy games is that as she takes on these various disguises, she finds herself changed not just superficially, but in character as well. She gives a remarkable account of how one's outer appearance can very much influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites.

As she writes, "Every restaurant is a theater...even the modest restaurants offer the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while." Garlic and Sapphires is a reflection on personal identity and role playing in the decadent, epicurean theaters of the restaurant world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2005 Ruth Reichl (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir

"[A] vivacious, fascinating memoir." (Publishers Weekly)
"Garlic and Sapphires pulls back the curtain on Reichl's six-year tenure at The Times, and it's never less than fascinating." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Way too abridged!

This is a good book. I picked the abridged over the unabridged this time, because the abridged version is read by the author. But so much is missing! In the book, chapters of narratives end in Ruth's newspaper column, which serves as a conclusion for each story. Those are cut out (so the stories are left to dangle, without the readers knowing how her article turned out). The entire "umani" sushi experience is gone, as well as other great segments.


Stay with the unabridged! I am very sorry that I didn't.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Samantha
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 04-15-05

Fabulous. . . can't wait for the whole thing!

Well written, humourous and sharply witty. Well worth the gamble.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Penny
  • Los Altos, CA, USA
  • 04-22-05

Great Book

If you liked Tender At The Bone, you will love this book. You haven't read Tender At The Bone? You will love that too. Ruth Reichl is the best writer on food and the best autobiographer we have writing today.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Definite sleep inducer

There is a reason most authors don't read their own books. Ruth Reichl should take note. Though I gave it many, many attempts, I was unable to finish this book due to the narration. I did, however, find it to be a great sleep inducer. Listen at your own napping risk.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Heather W
  • Austin, TX United States
  • 08-26-05

Fantastic!!

This book is so enjoyable--I love that she included the eating experience and then the review. To hear her describe all she went through in the visits to the restaurants and how those combined to become the actual review is wonderful. Her descriptions of dishes are mouth-watering to say the least. They make you want to move to New York and go to all the restaurants. I have to give her only four stars, in keeping with Ms. Reichl's reviews. :) What a delightful diversion!!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Therese
  • 03-29-10

If you love food, you'll love this!

This is a fantastic insight into the wonderful world of food journalism, restaurants and class wars. As a budding food writer who is obsessed with cooking it, eating it, dining out, reading about it...I'm always on the look out for a new novel about food. I also love memoirs and factual books so this is a marriage made in heaven. I would love to be a restaurant reviewer myself so this book lets you know the positives and the many negatives that come along with the gig! The only quibble I have is with the author narrating the audio book. She had a very annoying habit of giving all the other female characters in the novel the exact same droning laboured deep voice to depict age. I know it's part of the narrator's job to do the voices but I think a different narrator would've helped move this story along with more of a flow. But in all a "sapphire" of a read.