Ruth Reichl quotes and sayings
January 16, 1948
Plain fresh bread, its crust shatteringly crisp. Sweet cold butter. There is magic in the way they come together in your mouth to make a single perfect bite.
What I always do in times of trouble or stress is to try and do something I don't know how to do.
I meet people, and we can get past small talk pretty quickly if they've read my books. It's a great shortcut.
My kitchen was built for my body. It forms a 'U' in the middle of the living room and dining room. It's not huge, because I don't like huge kitchens.
A thousand years ago the Chinese had an entirely codified kitchen while the French were still gnawing on bones. Chopsticks have been around since the fourth century B.C. Forks didn't show up in England until 1611, and even then they weren't meant for eating but just to hold the meat still while you hacked at it with your knife.
I think it's part of the DNA of human beings. We are a cooking animal. What differentiates us from all the other animals is that we cook and they don't.
If we make it national policy that we will support small farmers the way we support agribusiness, we'll suddenly see it change in terms of the cost of organic food.
The first time you make something, follow the recipe, then figure out how to tailor it to your own tastes.
What was so extraordinary to me about going through this box of my mother's letters and diaries was meeting my mother not as my mother, but as a real person. And what breaks my heart is that I had no idea how self-aware she was and how protective of me she was.
When you're a restaurant critic, you're not home at night, so breakfast became really important for us.
If you go back in American history, oysters were the food of poor people. New York was filled with oyster saloons in the 1800s.
I was in Berkeley when the food energy in America was in Berkeley. Then it moved to Los Angeles, and I went to Los Angeles. It moved to New York, and I went there.
I learned so much in Laos. I learned that fried silkworm larvae are delicious. I learned how to make ant-egg salad.
By the time I met Julia Child, her husband, Paul, was little more than a ghost of a man, so diminished by old age and its attendant diseases that it was impossible to discern the remarkable artist, photographer and poet he once had been.
My mother's father was a doctor, and she desperately wanted to be a doctor.
Anyone who has ever been an ugly adolescent - and we are legion - knows that the feeling of being unlovely and unlovable never goes away; it is always there, lurking just beneath the surface.
There is that romanticized idea of what a bookstore can be, what a library can be, what a shop can be. And to me, they are that. These are places that open doors into other worlds if only you're open to them.
I loved being at the 'Times,' and they were incredibly good to me. I think it's a wonderful paper, and I was really well edited.
I don't think I hate any food trends.
When people flatter you constantly it is very tempting to think you deserve it.
Anyone who thinks they're too grown up or too sophisticated to eat caramel corn, is not invited to my house for dinner.
Ask people to pitch in - hand them a spoon and ask them to stir. Doing things together, having everyone help, makes for a nicer party.
I once ate nothing but grapefruit for an entire month. I didn't lose a pound.
A real woman is someone who knows what she wants. If you want to stay home, that's fine, but you have to be clear-eyed.
My idea of management is that what your job is as the boss is to find really good people and empower them and leave them alone.
If you're going to tell stuff, you might as well tell the real stuff.
I like poached eggs, but I'll make scrambled or fried or whatever anybody wants.
My mother started out by being a very good girl. She did everything that was expected of her, and it cost her dearly. Late in her life, she was furious that she had not followed her own heart; she thought that it had ruined her life, and I think she was right.
The hardest part of cooking is shopping, and if you organize yourself and shop once a week, you're halfway there.
When a person has lived generously and fought fiercely, she deserves more than sadness at the end.
What often, too often, happens in magazines is that you end up with a great editorial product, and then you're selling things that you don't really approve of.
Hunger, I discovered, is very much a matter of the mind, and as I began to study my own appetites, I saw that my teenage craving had not really been for food. That ravenous desire had been a yearning for love, attention, appreciation. Food had merely been my substitute.
What I like best is the challenge of learning something I didn't know how to do, going beyond my comfort level.
You can be a decent critic if you know about food, but to be a really good one, you need to know about life.
it was so rich and exotic I was seduced into taking one bite and then another as I tried to chase the flavors back to their source.
What I learned is that how we present ourselves to the world is really how we get treated. So if you want to be treated really well in a restaurant, you really have to dress up. You cannot just show up.
I don't have my own garden; we're on shale and in the woods. And if I did have a garden, the deer and chipmunks and squirrels and bears would eat everything anyway.
One of the secrets to staying young is to always do things you don't know how to do, to keep learning.
Reading an audio book is a very odd experience because there are three people sitting out there while you're reading in this glass booth, and you can see their reactions.
I couldn't live without butter. Butter is probably my single favourite food.
I had done this. I had pulled my life apart. I would never, ever be safe again.
The way we allow children to be advertised to is shocking. Eating is a learned behavior, and we've made these kids sitting ducks for all the bad messages about industrialized food. The fact that we allow that to go on is horrifying.
I think that reading is always active. As a writer, you can only go so far; the reader meets you halfway, bringing his or her own experience to bear on everything you've written. What I mean is that it is not only the writer's memory that filters experience, but the reader's as well.
You don't want to give people what they want. Give them something that they didn't know that they wanted.
You look at the Barefoot Contessa or Lydia Bastianich, and it's just like watching your mother cooking.
I think of fiction as the highest calling. I'm kind of addicted to it. It's the thing that has gotten me through all the hard points in my life.
M. F. K. Fisher was a wonder and a huge influence, and someone I got to know pretty well at the end of her life.
My mother really would make these dreadful concoctions. She really prided herself on something called 'Everything Stew,' where she would take everything in the refrigerator, all the leftovers, and put them all together.
It takes a great deal of strength to be an optimist.
The critic has to do more of what the book critics and art critics have done in the past. Which is give you a context for understanding the restaurant, give you a better way to appreciate it, give you the tools to go in there and be a more informed diner who can get more pleasure out of the experience.
I'm a home cook, and I'm constantly embarrassed by twentysomethings who really do know the mechanics of cooking. How to build a sauce.
If you really taste a doughnut, it's pretty disgusting. They taste of grease.
The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese could marry so perfectly.
The truth is, as much as I loved writing restaurant reviews, it always felt very self-indulgent to me. It was so much fun, I loved doing it, but there's so much else to say about food.
I'm convinced that the main reason we've become so obsessed with restaurants is due to our basic need to get out of virtual space and into a real one. We're not going out to eat merely to share food; we're there to sit at the same table together, slow down, breathe the same air.
I've been to a couple of restaurants in L.A. that were so loud, I left there with a sore throat; you literally could not have a conversation. I think it's very deliberate: There's this idea that somehow it's more fun if there's a roar in the room.
The implications of Americans devoting their lives to fast food are more profound than the fact that our kids aren't eating well. There are real repercussions that we need to know about and think about.
One of mom's greatest acts of generosity was that she trained me to be defiant. Her great gift to me was encouraging me to be the person that I wanted to be, not the one that she and my father wished I was.
Writing about food is my default.
I'm not a big turkey fan, but my husband loves it. Thanksgiving is his favorite meal.
She was a great cook, but she cooked more for herself than for other people, not because she was hungry but because she was comforted by the rituals of the kitchen.
I love to make pies - pot pies, quiches, savory tarts, fruit pies. I use an old-fashioned pastry blender with wires and a wooden handle. I never use a recipe.
in the end you are the only one who can make yourself happy. More important,... it is never too late to find out how to do it.
We in America have gotten addicted to cheap food. The result of that is antibiotic-laden fish, foods that are bred to be portable.
I don't think there's one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner.
I think I wrote my first piece about food in 1978.
I think it's hard, when you're someone who likes to please people, as I am, to be a boss. I had to learn how to rein myself in and not terrify people.
World War II really fascinated me because it's the only time that everybody in this country sat down at the same table, because eating on rations was your patriotic duty.
I love breakfast, and I don't see any reason it has to be cereal and eggs and toast.
American food is the food of immigrants. You go back a couple of hundred years, and we were all immigrants, unless we're going to talk about Native American cuisine.
People are so used to eating terrible pancakes, no matter how you mess up, they're going to be great. And if you make fresh orange juice, they'll be over the moon.
I came from a family where, you know, we sat down at the table every night, and you better have a story to tell. My father never wrote his stories down. And you know, I learned that they went farther if you wrote them down.
My idea of good living is not about eating high on the hog. Rather, to me, good living means understanding how food connects us to the earth.
Really, the only way to face the biggest problems we have is for the government to change the way they subsidize food. The way we subsidize food makes it cheaper to go to McDonald's and get a hamburger than a salad, and that's insane.
Sharing food has always had a central place in civilized societies; it's no accident that so many of our cultural, religious and patriotic rituals are involved with eating.
The American government policy on what we supported and subsidised in agriculture was a social experiment on a whole generation of children.
Laos is a country where everything is eaten. When I came back, I would find myself chopping parsley and thinking: 'Why am I throwing these stems away? They're perfectly edible.'.
For me, cooking is a way to try and please people and tell them I love them. When I fall in love with someone, I want to feed them as well.
I wanted to figure out a way of living where I didn't have to be in an office every day.
We in the media have been guilty about not doing a better job of making people understand how really simple cooking is. We've made everyone feel like they have to be a chef.
The single most useful ingredient on the planet. In a pinch you can scramble them and call it dinner. But it only takes five eggs, a little milk and a handful of cheese to make a fat, sassy cheese souffl.
Growing up, I was utterly oblivious to the fact that Mom was teaching me all that. But I was instantly aware of her final lesson, which was hidden in her notes and leters. As I read them I began to understand that in the end you are the only one who can make yourself happy. More important, Mom showed me that it is never too late to find out how to do it.
When I came to 'Gourmet,' I had no clue how to run a magazine; for television, I am fascinated to learn about editing.
It is not 'only' food, I said heatedly. There's meaning hidden underneath each dish.
The thing I like most in my kitchen is my marble counters. Everybody said not to use marble because it's fragile, it stains, it cracks, and it doesn't remain beautiful. But I love marble.
What does happen in 'Gourmet,' we had eight test kitchens, and at any given time, there were, like, ten or twelve test cooks. And whenever anybody finished something, they would yell, 'Taste!' and everyone would go running towards it, and then taste, and then brutally deconstruct the dish.
I loved writing fiction. I mean, once I found the character, or the characters, and knew who they were and knew their back-stories, it really - I mean, I went into my studio every day, thinking, 'What's gonna happen to Billy today?'.
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