Ruth Reichl, who preceded Bruni as the New York Times restaurant critic, captured her adventures in Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. In this wonderful, hard-to-put-down book, she shares recipes as well as insights into the world of a restaurant critic. Her love for food is obvious, and it’s fascinating how restaurant personnel—as well as co-workers and family—respond differently to the various personas she takes on in her quest to report on how ordinary people fare while dining out.
A few years back, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma totally changed my attitudes about what I eat. Pollan traces how the foods we buy get to the grocery store. I found his lessons on the Midwest paradigm of “corn-fed beef” (and how that has more to do with corporate profits than with a good steak) have lingered in my mind even today. He has subsequently published shorter variations of these themes, but what I learned in these 400+ pages was worth every minute.