Cover image for Eating my words : an appetite for life
Eating my words : an appetite for life
Sheraton, Mimi.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 240 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX649.S54 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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What's it like to be a food writer? What's it like dining at some of the world's best restaurants, as well as some of the worst? What's it like to share your opinion about food and restaurants with readers around the world?

Mimi Sheraton is one of the most renowned food writers and restaurant reviewers in the country. And perhaps the most frequently asked question is, How did she do it? Her response is simple: "Live my life." Now, in this entertaining and candid memoir, the doyenne of food critics provides a heartfelt and poignant look at the events of her extraordinary life.

A devoted journalist, Mimi's engaging style and meticulous research have made her the standard by which restaurant reviewing and food criticism in the United States is measured. In Eating My Words, she describes how she developed her passion for writing about food and travel. Witty and straightforward, Mimi takes you on an engrossing journey of memorable meals, unforgettable people and outrageous experiences. Travel with Mimi from her childhood growing up in a food-loving Brooklyn family with a very demanding mother ("You call that a chicken?") and a father in the wholesale fruit and vegetable business, through her college years in Manhattan and her rise to fame.

Best known for her work as the restaurant critic at the New York Times, Mimi relates her experiences from how she landed the job there to why she left eight years later. As a journalist, she has tasted and reported on some of the world's finest cuisine, including three-starred French restaurants, and on some of the most dismal food imaginable, from hospital and public school meals to the often unrecognizable fare served in airplanes and fast food chains.

Forthright and never afraid to be controversial, Mimi talks about the importance of a reviewer's anonymity and the excitement of making a new culinary discovery like the now notorious Rao's, and then sharing it through her writing. She reveals some of her most challenging moments, right down to a masked appearance on French television with several well-known French chefs that ended in a mini-brawl.

Fueled by her passion for food, wine and travel, Mimi Sheraton's memoir is a degustation that is as engaging as it is enlightening. A true reflection of this bon vivant's voracious appetite for life, Eating My Words is an irresistible treat you will savor word by word ... and will feel utterly satisfied.

Author Notes

Mimi Sheraton is a former New York Times restaurant critic who now free-lances for The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, and other magazines. Her cookbook The Whole World Loves chicken Soup won both the IACP Julia Child Award and the James Beard Award. She lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sheraton's got a plum job: the New York Times's restaurant critic in the 1970s and '80s, she's also worked as a consultant for the Four Seasons and a food writer for New York magazine. Her forthright, enthusiastic memoir instantly engages, as she tells of her adventures as a food lover and journalist, from her years as a newlywed in postwar Greenwich Village to the present. In one chapter, Sheraton describes a 1960 international trip during which she sampled everything from borscht in Russia to fava bean breakfast porridge in Egypt. At the Times, Sheraton introduced the public to Rao's, demoted Le Cirque's rating to one star and amassed a collection of wigs and glasses to help protect her anonymity. After leaving the Times, Sheraton wrote for Time and Cond? Nast Traveler, which allowed her to visit a Tokyo fish market and a Shanghai bakery where "one worker handed me the wooden stamp and indicated that I should make myself useful by marking buns." Whether writing about what makes a restaurant run well or the horrors of institutional cuisine, Sheraton's a likeable storyteller. She also serves as an able social historian, providing thoughtful commentary on cooking and dining trends in America (and beyond) during the past 50 years. Agent, Dan Green. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Veteran food writer Sheraton has spent many years dining at and dishing about the world's great restaurants, most notably during her tenure at the New York Times. In her introduction, she presents 20 frequently asked questions e.g., "Were you ever pressured to give favorable reviews to advertisers or to the bosses' friends?" and answers them all. Unfortunately, Sheraton's writing style is in the vein of reportage, i.e., suitable for a few thousand words but lacking a narrative voice to sustain the reader's attention for hundreds of pages. However, she gives us a full account of her enviable profession, and the advice should be required reading for restaurant entrepreneurs. The rest of us would be more satisfied with Ruth Reichl's superior memoir, Tender at the Bone. Julie James, Forsyth Cty. P.L., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Eating My Words An Appetite For Life Chapter One Like Mother, Like Daughter "Today you're a maven of dreck ..." "Good morning, Mother." It is 8:10 A.M. and I know that my mother has been aching to talk since 6:30, when the New York Times arrives at her door. Unable to contain herself any longer after reading one of my most negative Friday restaurant reviews, she finally calls, certain that I will be awake. "You think what you do is so nice?" she begins. "A man invests a lot of money and builds a beautiful restaurant and has a family to support. He has customers and everything is fine, until one day, in walks Big Mouth. Then you write and say that this was too salty, and that was too dry, and this was too that, and pretty soon nobody goes there. Who cares if people eat in a terrible place? If you don't like it, go someplace else. Do you think everyone knows what good is? And even if you're right, what business is it of yours?" It would have been futile to explain that my business was exactly that, and, furthermore, that I was building a gratifying following. Just as pointless would be the information that I had won an award, or that I was told by several restaurant owners that they were able to get bank loans on the basis of my two-star rating. I knew why the review had earned me the accolade maven of dreck -- a connoisseur of crap in Yiddish. The subject was an Italian restaurant where I reported on the mussels, snails and eels I had eaten, foods my mother never would touch and so regarded as unfit for all humans. It was a strange line in the sand drawn by a woman who not only ate but prepared raw and cooked clams and oysters, every kind of fish, innards like brains, sweetbreads, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs and who, when making pickled herring, mashed the spleen (miltz) to add creaminess to the brine. "We don't eat mussels, snails and eels," she said. By "we," I knew she meant Jews. "I don't know about we," I answered, "but you haven't a kosher bone in your body and the we you're talking about don't eat clams or oysters, either. You also say we don't eat olive oil, but that will be news to Sephardic Jews and many Israelis. So who are we?" "A sane person can't talk to you. You'd better speak to your father." Many readers of my Times columns shared my mother's opinion of me as nitpicker and busybody, questioning not only my aesthetic judgments but my morals and my sanity. Among such was a Brooklyn minister who wrote, "If Mimi Sheraton were invited to dinner beyond the Pearly Gates, she would probably complain that the light was too bright." To which I replied, "If it were, I would." When I described a tiny, succulent soft-shell crab as looking like an infant's hand, a reader warned the editors, "Be careful. Your critic is becoming cannibalistic." Similarly, in a review of a very authentic Japanese restaurant, I reported on first being shocked to see lobster sashimi presented as a split lobster, still energetically writhing on my plate. Recovering quickly, I dug in and so was able to praise the meat's silken texture and airy, sea-breeze flavor. "Your restaurant critic has lost her mind," came the first of several irate letters. "She is now eating live animals." My answer now, as then, is that it is arguable whether any creature that has been cut in half is really alive just because nerves are twitching. Or to point out that devotees of clams and oysters on the half shell better be eating them live if the eaters want to stay that way. Perhaps bivalve mollusks arouse little sympathy because they have less personality than crustaceans and their stubborn fight for life is apparent only to shuckers. In any event, I assured readers that even I had humanitarian limits, citing my refusal of a dinner invitation in Hong Kong in 1960, when the special treat was to be monkey brains, served as a dip in the chopped-open head still attached to the live -- or, at least, quivering -- animal. One of my most persistent critics through the years sent postcards to the Times , sometimes addressed to me by name, other times only to "Maven af Pork Ass," a sobriquet that did not stump the mail-room staff at all. Whether neatly typed or handwritten in a wild sprawl, these picture postcards came from various restaurants whenever I reported on eating pork. Each was signed with a different female name, once that of the legendary actress Molly Picon. Having obviously read me for some time, the writer knew that my grandfather had been a rabbi, who, I was warned, must be turning in his grave. I was admonished to think more about my ancestral heritage and less about pork ass, and was advised, as a parting thought, "You have too much to say in general, anyway." My mother couldn't have said it any better. Although my parents were proud of my working at the New York Times , they hated my role as a restaurant critic, my father mainly because he feared I might be harmed by an irate owner. Fortunately, he needn't have worried. I was never even threatened, no less harmed, nor was I ever offered a bribe. My mother, although my fiercest defender, expressed her unconditional love through unrelenting criticism that she clearly meant to be constructive -- for my own good. And not only with food. In summer, she said my dress looked too warm. In winter, she said my coat did not look warm enough.When I told her I was taking a second trip to Europe, she advised, "Take a really good look this time, so you don't have to go back again!" And when I had my apartment walls painted white, she chided, "For the same money, you could have a color!" Eating My Words An Appetite For Life . Copyright © by Mimi Sheraton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life by Mimi Sheraton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.