56 | November/December2019 eatdrink.ca |@eatdrinkmag Books A Gourmet Life Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl Review by DARIN COOK Iwas working on the frontlines in a bookstore when in 2009 Gourmet magazine had its last stand. I had been searching for the latest issue, for a customer, when the staff member who stocked the magazines informed me that Gourmet was defunct — one month here, the next month not. I was surprised that an established magazine with staunch readership could fold simply because the internet had become a major player as a publishing option. A decade after that demise Ruth Reichl, the editor at the time, has published Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (Random House, 2019). It recounts her rise to fame in the magazine world, even as Gourmet was on the brink of its fall. There are perhaps only a handful of people who have had more of an impact on culinary writing than Reichl; the upper ranks managing high-end magazines under the Condé Nast umbrella were well aware of her literary reputation when they offered her the editor-in-chief position at the prestigious epicurean magazine. Reichl had adored Gourmet as a child and credits her love of food, in part, to early editions she had thumbed through in used-book stores in her youth. When she became a writer she desperately wanted to be a contributor. Although she never did — it became too prissy and stodgy for her — she somehow found herself being asked to take charge of it at a time when it was in need of revitalization. Reichl would be coming off her sixyear stint as The New York Times restaurant critic, and she justifies the change in profession by recognizing the time it would give her to have dinner with her husband and so — time she had lost eating at restaurants alone all those years. Adding the perks of a clothing allowance and an office with a private bathroom made it a hard offer to pass up. Save Me the Plums provides glimpses into her personal life, like those more-frequent, home-cooked meals that her son delighted in, but it mainly focuses on her professional relationships with publishers, editors, artists, writers, photographers, test kitchen cooks, and marketers, while at the helm of Gourmet. The history of what went on during her tenure is directly linked to how the corporate bigwigs moved staff around or let them go in a flurry, forcing Reichl to Author Ruth Reichl
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