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Insatiable: Tales From A Life Of Delicious Excess (2007)

Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess (2007)
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2.99 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
0446695106 (ISBN13: 9780446695107)
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English
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grand central publishing
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Insatiable: Tales From A Life Of Deli...
Insatiable: Tales From A Life Of Delicious Excess (2007)

About book: Halfway through this book, a few things are apparent: Gael Greene knows food, loves to talk foie gras, and we'll never get out of the 70s.I purchased a used copy of Insatiable because of its subtitle, “Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess.” I had no prior knowledge of Greene, but was sold on the prospect of living vicariously and decadently through this woman's life.Greene is an expert on dishes I can't pronounce, wines that may never grace my lips, and she goes into intricate details about virtually every one of them. It appears that she has chronicled every breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner that she consumed as a food critic and brings them to the page down to the “snippets of chive,” the “garlicky broth,” and the “nutty warmth of cream.” These fanatical details are mouthwatering a few chapters in, but by midway, it's just too much. I no longer cared what dish Greene thought was “gaspingly tangy.” I found myself grazing over the dense paragraphs describing the latest restaurant's opulent décor, as well as lengthy descriptions of more run-ins with foie gras and black truffles.I enjoyed Greene's human interactions most—her marriage struggles, her many lovers, her fancy friends. However these wonderful anecdotes drowned under too many helpings of “meltingly buttery Viennese cookies,” scallops, and sorbets.Another thing I find frustrating is the lack of flow. A chapter would begin in 1971, talking about one aspect of growing food trends, and the next chapter would begin with some other story that started in 1971. Then we'd talk about something she ate in 1972, then we were back to '71. Apparently Insatiable is more topical than it is chronological, but it ends up giving the reader the feeling of being on a treadmill. And like a treadmill regimen, the book was difficult to get through with a smile.I love food and I've read other books centered on food, but Insatiable would have been more enjoyable if it was half its size.

I do love reading about eating and cooking, which is probably why I own so many cookbooks myself. I liked her culinary adventures, though this lady loves some organ meats. Gross... I found this similar to Ruth Riechl's books, but I think I liked Ruth's stories a bit better. I did enjoy Gael's lusty approach to both food and men and that was wicked fun to read.But I found her aspirations for material status to be off putting in their clear superficiality. She stressed that having another mink coat was a need of hers. And she got a huge ego boost from being recognized and lavished upon in the restaurants she was supposed to be critiquing. This is in stark contrast to Reichls obsessive desire to go in disguise to review restaurants and thus her famous dual critique of Le Cirque where she reported as an old lady, clearly of little means, and gave it a 1 star due to the abhorrent treatment she received, versus when she went in and allowed herself to be noticed as the critic where she was treated as royalty. I found it interesting that Greene acknowledged this incident in her book, but only because Siro (the Owner) stopped being mad at a slightly less than perfect review she gave Le Cirque because all of his wrath was directed at Reichl. She was slightly redeemed in my eyes when she took on a charity project to help older shut ins in NYC receive meals by fundraising and bringing awareness to the project. Overall, I liked the read, but wouldn't like to have dinner with her.
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Reviews
Peggy Halm
Can you spell narcissist? This book by a long-time food editor and apparently self-professed sex goddess was three times longer than it needed to be and would probably only be interesting to New York foodies who lived there during her reign. I kept reading it long after losing interest because surely if you read long enough, someone so self-absorbed must reveal some redeeming quality - but it was not to be. Unless you enjoy constant name dropping and stories of celebrities she bedded (Elvis, Clint, & Burt), don't waste your time. That said, I plan to try one of the recipes - a Mushroom tart - she listed - none of the others were interesting to me.
dejamo
Disappointing. Greene is awfully impressed with her own bad self and reveals all kinds of distasteful tidbits about her ethics as a journalist and restaurant reviewer. She confesses each peccadillo as if, by confessing alone, she is exonerated and can travel through the rest of her life with a clear conscience.Oh, and she had a lot of sex with a lot of (many of them famous) men (starting with Elvis!), and ate a lot of really really good expensive food in New York, Paris, and the rest of the world. Each chapter may as well be titled "What I Ate" or "Who I F*cked" and reads like a laundry list of decadent foods and sexy famous men. There is no real description of any of the restaurants or the food; it's a recording of who was hot at which spot. There's a little self-deprecation peppered throughout the book with the intention, I'm sure, of making Ms. Greene more accessible to the masses (us), but none of it rings true.There are recipes spread throughout the book, but there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to where they are placed, or why. They actually represent the book perfectly - there was no order there either. Some chapters end with a recipe but there is no context within the chapter to explain the presence of the recipe. The recipes all look ok, but without any context, I think even the most intuitive reader would be hard-pressed to make a credible connection between the two.I have never read any of Ms. Greene's restaurant reviews. From what I gleaned from her memoirs, the only reason I would ever want to is to find out where to go if I want to be ignored while I ogle the A-List celebs who waltz past me on their way to the star table.There may be some folks who are insatiable for this kind of experience; I am not one of them.
Shelly
Book #9 for 2012 - If you can get past the fact that Gael Greene is an INCURABLE nymphomaniac and you like to read about food (especially the NYC food world) you will like this book. Gael Greene was the food critic for New York Magazine from 1968-2002. She is a well respected critic (and a tough one.) I loved reading about the food revolution that took place in the 60s and 70s in NYC. She does a good job of describing how many food trends came to be, when they came to be and how they came to be. One of my favorite stories was how Le Bernardin got it's start and how it is still thriving today under Eric Ripert. If you like to read about the food world you will like this book. If you like to read about sex you will like this book! If you don't then just skip that part because the part about food is SO worth it!
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