I've been re-reading Ruth Reichl's tale of her years as the Times restaurant critic. It primarily makes me wish I had more money, although she frames it as a tale of a former Berkeley hippie losing her soul around all those three-figure meals. The politics of the book are among the best things about it: her famous two reviews of Le Cirque, one as an average person and one as someone in her powerful job; taking on the persona of a poorly-dressed, lonely woman she sees on the bus to attend other fancy spots and seeing how clothes and cache change the experience. Reichl is also partly responsible for ethnic food being taken seriously as a subject of review. I had forgotten that there is an entire chapter dedicated to touring Brooklyn with Ed Levine, herald of the current hole-in-the-wall craze. There are also sensual descriptions of meals at many name restaurants you and I will probably never see the inside of (and there's a wonderful scene in which Reichl pays the bill of a couple at The Box Tree because they're having their One Special Meal and it's terrible). The office politics of the Times are also fascinating, even if Reichl claims she did make some of the more unpleasant figures up, or at the very least create composites. In a second reading, the lengthy bits about choosing wigs and getting into various personas can be tedious. Some of the experiences she describes, like her her time at Windows on the World with the most obnoxious charity winner ever, are excruciating (also a feature of her first memoir about her bipolar mother). Reichl is a bit of an over-writer in my opinion, and sometimes it all gets a little too precious. Still, a look behind the scenes of a major paper's restaurant reviewing can only be a page-turner, even a second or third time around.