(Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess)
By Gael Greene
As advertised, so delivered.
Gael Greene has been the food writer for New York magazine since its beginning in 1968, back when foodieism wasn’t big, or at least not big in the way it is now. According to the memoirs, she truly is insatiable for both adventures in food and sex*, so much so that it eventually wore me out. It’s a good autobiography, the kind that comes with the sense of time and place, warts (and vanity) and all, and I don’t mean to imply that the author is repetitive or dull. It’s just that I have human appetites for pretty much everything but books. The essence of being both unfulfillable and picky to a nicety seems the same, though, a kind of “I’ll try anything as long as it’s good” mentality.
The writing is fun, if somewhat melodramatic at times; I recognized a lot of foodie-type names, but by the end of the book, I could have cared less who opened which restaurant or who was seen there and how they were treated. I never tired of her gossiping abou the food:
Picasso had to learn how to draw before he did those Cubist tricks. And here I was, scolding a two-star Michelin chef because his vanilla creme was too strongly scented with rose petals and chiding Andre Solmer at Lutece for a vapid creme renversee au caramel. Yet in my brief years as an amateur cook, I had never tackled sweetbreads or cleaned a squid and had failed utterly in m one attempt at trying to duplicate Le Pavillion’s quenelles de brochet. The stink of abused fish had lingered in our kitchen for two days.
A life being lived in the moment, often selfishly. I recommend MFK Fisher more highly (less sex and gossip but more stories), but this was a fun read, and a good way of getting the sense of the New York food scene over almost forty years.
*The first kiss-and-tell cracked me up. I won’t spoil it for you.