Party Tips from Food Writer Ruth Reichl

“I was not prepared for the feel of the noodles in my mouth, or the purity of the taste. The noodles quivered as if they were alive, and leapt into my mouth where they vibrated as if playing inaudible music….The restaurant’s sea urchins were fabulous too: great soft piles of orange roe as succulent and perfumed as hunks of ripe mango. Claudia refused to taste them. She merely shuddered when I offered her raw shrimps, which melted beneath the teeth with the lush generosity of milk chocolate.”

I think even a non-sushi-lover could be persuaded to eat Japanese food by Ruth Reichl. The above excerpt is from her food memoir Garlic and Sapphires, about her time as restaurant critic for the New York Times.

I have a terrible writer-crush on Ms. Reichl…even her tweets make my mouth water. Who knew you could pack so much descriptive power into 140 characters?

“White world. The bears have gone to sleep; birds flit to the feeder. Habanero-sparked cheddar melted, softly on tortillas. Zing of lime.”


“Sun slowly rising through the trees; fire in the sky. Slap: strong coffee. Shock: icy tangerines. Comfort: crumbly warm biscuits, jam.”

Anyway. I didn’t start this post to rave about her food writing, but to point out a perfect little post she wrote: Three Tips to Have a Great Party. Very, very concise, useful stuff.

I used one of her tips tonight when our old neighbors joined us for dinner. Ruth writes about choosing foods that allow you to sit with your guests instead of running back to the kitchen. “Put out lots of nibbley things to begin with – pate, cheese, salume, nuts, homemade crackers, some kind of vegetable dip,” she said.

Tonight I was running late, having put off grocery shopping far too long today, but thankfully they were running late too. “A reprieve!” my husband crowed when we got their text message. Even with the delay, I knew I wouldn’t be completely ready. My dinner preparations were hindered by several days worth of dishes covering every inch of my limited counter space, in spite of the load I had already put into the dishwasher.

Thinking of Ruth’s post, the first thing I prepared was the fresh guacamole (three ripe avocados mashed, lemon or lime juice, kosher salt, fajita seasoning, two spoonfuls of mayo). I set those and a bowl of lime chips out on the table so that at least our guests could munch while I finished the fixings for our build-a-burrito bar.

Which of Ruth’s three tips is most helpful to you?

Also, you should follow @ruthreichl on Twitter.

Take a glance at Garlic and Sapphires on Google Books. If you love food, you’ll sit there and read the whole thing unless you immediately order a copy on Amazon.

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  • Nichole

    I love food and food writing, especially in the NYT, but Holy Creepy, Batman! Noodles that are ALIVE and QUIVERING? No thanks! I think she went a little overboard with that one. :P

  • gwyn

    YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK BECAUSE OF ME! I AM FULL OF WIN! :-D i like build-your-own-burrito dinner parties. not as much as i love loco cocos burritos, but…y'know, those don't come with automatic friends, so…it's a trade-off.

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