Eatdrink #80 November/December 2019 - The Holiday Issue


The LOCAL food and drink magazine serving London, Stratford & Southwestern Ontario since 2007

eatdrink: The Local Food & Drink Magazine

November/December 2019 | 57

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884 Adelaide Street N. | London | 519-433-4444

manage HR issues that were not her forte.

Readers of the book will not be surprised

by the story’s unfortunate conclusion, so

Reichl presumably focuses on her colleagues

(whether she liked working with them or

not) to pay homage to their handiwork

in regenerating an iconic magazine for a

time. Even though she was dealing with the

business of magazine editing more than

tasting dishes or writing about them, there

are still the requisite delicious descriptions

she is known for from her previous books:

taste testing a chocolate cake in the Gourmet

test kitchen; sharing the Spicy Chinese Noodle

recipe she makes for her son; describing bread

from a neighbourhood bakery by writing it

was “like tasting history, like savoring the

first loaf of bread ever baked.” It is a Reichl

memoir, after all, and she always comes back

to the food.

I enjoy memoirs that are narrower in

scope, not sprawling narratives from cradle

to grave. Reichl’s career as a writer has many

layers and Save Me the Plums covers a decade

of her life when Gourmet became one more

notch in her literary belt. Her contributions to

Gourmet were transformational: she embraced

the changes surfacing in the restaurant

scene, tackled the rise of celebrity chefs by

putting them on the cover in rock star poses

(photographed by Matthew Rolston who did

Rolling Stone covers), and commissioned

cutting-edge articles from authors like David

Foster Wallace. Amid these successes, what

is most heartbreaking about her story is how

Condé Nast shut Gourmet down when the high

times of the print magazine world crumbled

under the pressure of the internet. Reichl

had to live through it and she reveals how the

extraction of something that had touched her

personal life and shaped her career so much

was devastating. For Reichl, “A world without

Gourmet was unimaginable.” She could not

move forward by publishing more issues,

but only be inspired by her collection of back

issues, in the same way they had stirred her as

a child.

DARIN COOK is a Chatham-based freelance writer

who keeps himself well-read and well-fed by visiting the

bookstores and restaurants of London.

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