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Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Insatiable Excess    by Gael Greene order for
by Gael Greene
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Gael Greene wrote The Insatiable Critic column for New York Magazine for thirty years. During that time she became a devotee of fine foods, wines and men - not necessarily in that order. In fact, how she had time to research and write her columns is a mystery to me. The names of men, men and more men pepper the pages of her 'Tales from a Life of Insatiable Excess'.

Apart from time spent between the sheets, Greene became a leading figure among foodies in New York, the West Coast, and Europe. She was often on a first name basis with the reigning chef of the moment. Her palette became so finely honed that she was able to pick out elusive ingredients in foods served to her in such places as 21, Lutece, Le Cirque, Odeon, Tavern on the Green, Troisgros, and La Pyramide.

The food! Ah, the food. Dishes I've never heard of, let alone eaten, as well as everyday things, such as macaroni and cheese (Greene gives a marvelous sounding recipe for this dish haven't tried it yet, but I shall). The meals described are written of with gentle love for the foods and the people producing them. Greene chronicles the rise and fall of restaurants over the life of her column writing years, as well as the rise and fall of new and old dishes.

Most of the name-dropping done in this book meant very little to me. I never was a part of the New York gourmet scene and so Greene's care in placing chefs and restaurants and celebrities in the proper time-span of world news helped me keep the people and happenings in proper order. What I really did appreciate was the history of the skyrocketing rise of new food fads and their rapidly descending fall. The descriptions of the meals Greene consumed over those thirty years became almost too mouthwatering to bear.

Although a lot of what Gael Greene has to impart went over my head, I found her book very readable. It's written by someone who has found herself and is not afraid to live the life she has chosen. Her decision has served her well. And she did it 'on someone else's dollar'. A quote on the cover sums up for me the panache of the woman: 'For me, the two greatest discoveries of the twentieth century were the Cuisinart and the clitoris.'

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