My Thoughts on the Ruth Reichl (Gourmet Magazine Editor-in-Chief) Event in Palo Alto

My Thoughts on the Ruth Reichl (Gourmet Magazine Editor-in-Chief) Event in Palo Alto Recipe

The Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley presented a special event with Ruth Reichl, Gourmet’s Editor-in-Chief, in Palo Alto yesterday. I couldn't miss it.  The event was structured as an interview, and was actually streamed live on the radio as well.

Ruth -I say Ruth as if I already know her- has the countenance of a foodie-equivalent of Vogue's Anna Wintour. From the moment she opened her mouth though, her accessibility and warmth drew the audience in.

Her most recent book is entitled Gourmet Today. She wrote this fool-proof recipe book for her son Nick, who is a college student. Being away from home sparked in him an interest in cooking. He started calling and asking questions of his mom and this book answers all his questions.

First, Ruth defined what a gourmet was. In the past, Ruth thought of a gourmet as a fat, rich male who would best be described as a snobby bon-vivant! Her opinion has changed, and now she defines a gourmet as someone who loves food, regardless of its fat content. I have a different take. In my opinion, I would describe a gourmet as someone who cares about what they put in their mouth.

Ruth's description of what it means to be a gourmet reminded me of the French lifestyle. We love to meet around food, sit around a table and have time to chat with friends and family during our meals.  I find it interesting that mentalities are changing in America and people are starting to take time to eat. It's not eating for the sake of eating, but rather enjoying food and taking time to savor a meal.

Many people insist that they don't have time to cook, and Ruth took aim at them with her next comments. She argued that we can always make time to whatever is important to us. I totally agree; cooking is no chore; it's an expression of love, and is one of the key factors that affects the health of your family. She said there has to be a generosity of cooking, a largeness of spirit. It made me laugh when she said that you have a good, not stingy in soul. She calls herself a home-cook, which may suprise some.

I will finish with her thoughts about how eating habits have changed in America. School lunches, for example, used to be limited to PB&Js, but immigration and maturing palates have brought forth a myriad of new options.  I couldn't agree more; in fact I am representative of this change. My parents emigrated from Vietnam to France. Even though I was born in France, I was introduced to phở, canh chua and other Vietnamese fare, as well as all the favorites of French cuisine, such as ragoûts and pissaladière niçoise. I traveled a lot as a child in Europe, Asia and America and discovered a lot of new cuisines. And when I have children, their meals will feature foods from America, France, India and Vietnam.

Food is about your life, your emotions. When I moved to California to be with my husband, I discovered Indian cuisine thanks to Lulu's grandmother. The figurative melting pot has given way to a literal one in my home. As Ruth says, cooking is about caring, and we, "crave the kind of joy" that only comes from seeing your loved ones consuming the labor of my work. Nothing can beat that feeling.

Indian-Style Pearl Onion Confit Tatin Tart
Indian-Style Pearl Onion Confit Tatin Tart.

All in all, I enjoyed the event so much I can't wait to attend another one soon and hear more about Ruth's passion for food. Chapeau bas, l'artiste!


Follow Ruth Reichl in her new TV show, Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth, starting October 18th on PBS.


[-] Thanks for sharing - Guest-Phil105
Great to read about this event. Thanks for sharing it with us. My wife recently read Ruth's book "Garlic and Sapphires" and instantly fell for her passion. It's great to identify with someone who has such a strong passion for food.

Her segments on Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie are usually the highlight of every show for me.

I'm looking forward to her new show on PBS, premiering October 17th -

Thanks again.

Phil Website Link
[ Posted at 3:25 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
Ruth mentioned it during the interview. It's going to air on PBS starting October 18th. There are going to be 10 episodes.
[ Posted at 4:50 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
I LOVE RUTH! Love her so much! You're a lucky gal getting to meet and greet with my hero ;-)

Gastronomer Website Link
[ Posted at 3:41 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Fabulous! - Guest-VeggieGirl
Fabulous, thorough event recap!

VeggieGirl Website Link
[ Posted at 4:23 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
I found this fascinating - I've always wondered what she's like in person. I know she was friends with an eccentric friend of our family and folks who dealt with our family friend needed patience and kindness, so I always expected that she was a good person.

There's a book you might love - it's called Stealing Buddha's Dinner and it addresses the cultural melting pot in the U.S. on many different levels via a personal memoir of a woman who came to the U.S. from Saigon in 1975, when she was 4. It's by Bich Minh Nguyen, and it's one of my favorite books. Beautifully written.

Jen of a2eatwrite Website Link
[ Posted at 4:27 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Interesting! - Guest-Jill750
Thanks for posting this. She seems like an interesting and also very nice person. I didn't know about the PBS show, but now I will watch it!

Jill Website Link
[ Posted at 5:30 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] Foodie with L ittle Thyme! - Guest-cassie
Very cool that you were able to attend and connect with her. The tart looks amazing. Make me want to give you a hug!

cassie Website Link
[ Posted at 8:36 PM on 9/30/09 | Reply ]
[-] great read - Guest-OysterCulture
If I was in town I would have gone to that event. I am a member of the Commonwealth Club and was bummed to have missed it, but feel like I got to experience at least a bit thanks to your excellent post.

OysterCulture Website Link
[ Posted at 8:01 AM on 10/1/09 | Reply ]
Yum! This is a great, flavorful dip to serve with almost anything, I say! And as far as BSI Limes go, I think this is great!

coach purses outlet Website Link
[ Posted at 5:24 PM on 12/9/12 | Reply ]


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