I won’t lie – I cried when I found out that food writer Ruth Reichl would be giving a free speech in Lexington this Saturday at the 34th Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Since the first time I read Garlic and Sapphires (and couldn’t put it down), she has been the single most influential figure in the formation of who I am as a chef, a writer, and a lover of food. She showed the world that a food critic could be intelligent and difficult to please yet open-minded and fair at the same time. Truly, she inspired me to look well upon the profession and even dare to start my own path towards critiquing. Ruth takes all the pretention out of what it means to be a food critic and replaces it with warmth, passion, and humor. I’ve spent countless hours curled up on the couch, utterly lost in her words. She inspired me profoundly, and I am grateful beyond explanation for the joy that she has brought to my life with her work.
Beginning her food writing career in 1972 with Mmmmm: A Feastiary, Reichl has written Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, and For You, Mom, Finally. She was most notably the former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine for 10 years, the restaurant critic of the New York Times from 1993 to 1999, and the restaurant critic/food editor of the Los Angeles Times from 1984 to 1993. She is also the recipient of 6 James Beard Awards. To learn more about her life and career, visit www.ruthreichl.com !
This year, the conference has been dubbed “Year of the Foodie!”. There will be several special guests from the culinary world, and even a workshop given on how to write and publish a cookbook! If you are interested in the entire 2-day conference, please visit www.uky.edu/WWK/ for more details and to register.
As a preface to her keynote presentation at 7 PM, titled “Eating Our Words”, Reichl offered this: "These days we're doing a lot of writing about food. The question is, why? This little romp through history looks at food writing in different times and places in the world, in an attempt to discover what the changing language of food can tell us about ourselves. Our attitudes about food have been in constant flux, and by looking at the past we can understand why we are living in such a food-focused present."
After the speech, Kentucky’s celebrity chef, Ouita Michel, will have some questions prepared for a Q&A session with Ruth. There will also be a book signing! When I reach the front of the line, I might pass out or cry inconsolably in a projectile fashion. Or both. Please be sure to bring smelling salts and/or a small bucket of water with you. Slap me if you must.
There is a ticketed reception before the speech at Maxwell Place from 5-6:30. It is a fundraiser for the convention, and tickets are $20 for convention registrants or $40 for non-registrants.
Ruth Reichl’s presentation is at 7 PM in Worsham Theatre at the UK Student Center.
If you’ve never read her work, be sure to seek out her memoirs - they are absolutely fantastic.
It’s only a short road trip, and I’m sure her speech will be well worth the drive. Hope to see you Saturday!
Worsham Theatre – UK Student Center
Lexington, KY 40508