The Plums: Delicious, but very Cold: SAVE ME THE PLUMS

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Save Me the Plums

SAVE ME THE PLUMS cover

My Gourmet Memoir

By Ruth Reichl
Narrated by Ruth Reichl
Duration: 7 Hours and 56 Minutes
Penguin Random House Audio (PRHA) | Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Biography & Autobiography – Personal Memoirs
Release Date: April 02, 2019

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

 

 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the job (and the risk) of a lifetime when she entered the high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet. “

A must for any food lover . . . Reichl is a warm, intimate writer. She peels back the curtain to a glamorous time of magazine-making. You’ll tear through this memoir.”—Refinery29 (The Best New Books of April 2019)

When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. Yet Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media—the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams—even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.  https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/210646/save-me-the-plums/

 

My Take Oblong Shaped

Reichl has always been reliably readable for me, and now I find she is equally listenable!
SAVE ME THE  PLUMS starts off with this William Carlos Williams poem — always one of my favorites.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
 
and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast
 
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so col

This Is Just To Say
By William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams,”This Is Just to Say” from The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939, copyright ©1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. Source: The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1991) https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56159/this-is-just-to-say
While I’ve never analyzed the poem it seems apt.  We’ve all had a job we might love to be offered but which would be extremely challenging even in normal circumstances.  Ruth Reichl was offered a job that was a plum , no doubt about it — a little out of her comfort zone but which would signal a pinnacle of her career and a very personal move.  From er childhood, Reichl had been a fond of the iconic Gourmet Magazine, in all it’s stuffy propriety. But, throw with the exponential growth of the internet, a financial crash, and a idiosyncratic, family operation like Conde Nast and the delicious plums in the fridge can be delicious but also very cold.  Cold fruit hurts my teeth; imagine if the fruit a job you lived and breathed, it would be like eating tin foil. Gourmet, the magazine Reichl was tapped for,  from her position as the in newspapers and as a published author well as Vogue, Traveler, Allure, etc.  were owned by Conde Nast., a giant in the magazine publishing industry.   And, magazines suffered both the exponential impact of the internet, and the 2008 crash. Cold fruit indeed!

Reiche went into the operation with a massive pay raise as well as a multitude of perks we would only imagine to be part of a movie plot: clothing allowance and drivers.  At first, Reichl, whose mom sought the status and benefits of the wealthy and well-placed and who was sort of an epicurean hippy, was averse to accepting these items until she realized it affected the standing of her magazine. 

Reichle and her team members totally reinvented the stuffy, white-gloved magazine and excited readers and professionals alike.

Like Mayes, about whom I posted earlier this week, Reichl’s writing is deeply personal, but she also protects her own image and position. She does her best, and the fall, when it comes is rapid and seems to blindside her. Partly because she jumps through a lot of hoops — getting ad revenue, winning awards, developing cook books, etc.  Reichl worked her ass off but eventually, and surprisingly, it  fell vistim to the caprices of the Conde Nast machine  and the  changing times. And, perhaps her prior lack of magazine experience

Reichle also reveals her family life and how hard a career woman has to work to keep balance in her life, raise a child, and have a marriage that endures.  She also looks at how wealth and position removes us from genuine experience with its cushy-ness. How can you know a sublime meal if you haven’t experienced the banal? There are a few recipes , but nothing earth-shattering.  The story of 9/11 in NYC is very emotional.

As well as a glimpse into the magazine business of the past, food, career and family life, Reichle offers  a view at how her career, especially her time  at Gourmet,  helped her reconcile her life  with her parents’ issues and intents. She does a great job narrating her story and the referential issues I note in some other non-fiction books are pretty mild here. 

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who loves food, and maybe especially those people trying to create balance in their lives.

Links Blue Horizontal:

PUBLISHER: https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/210646/save-me-the-plums/

AUDIBLE: https://www.audible.com/pd/Save-Me-the-Plums-Audiobook/0385393490

AUTHOR: http://ruthreichl.com /