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Review: My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

The title, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life may sound a bit dramatic, and she’s been teased time and again for her rather rapturous tweets, but Ruth Reichl delivers on her premise. After the abrupt close of Gourmet, Reichl found solace and strength in the kitchen—every recipe proceeds a moment in her life that led to that exact dish—and she makes clear that the right recipe has the power to heal, revive, and reinvigorate. I felt it too: on a chilly night after a frustrating day, her silky, bright Avgolemono soup and garlicky broccoli rabe bruschetta comforted and fortified me.

The book is organized by season (Reichl gets particularly excited by whatever is good and fresh). Her recipe style is relaxed, even soothing. Instead of a formal ingredient list, items are grouped as either staples or shopping list grabs. Instead of numbered steps, she instructs in warm, friendly paragraphs—a call to peel apples for a crisp reads, “peel a few different kinds of apples, enjoying the way they shrug reluctantly out of their skins.” And, perhaps in a nose thumbing to online critics, each anecdote is set off by one of her infamous tweets.

If you tend to roll your eyes at the overly earnest, read My Kitchen Year for the recipes, and cook many of them. You’ll be deeply satisfied, maybe even moved.

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