Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, paints a portrait of a fiercely loving relationship between mother and daughter in "Not Becoming My Mother."
Reichl's mother, Miriam Brudno, wanted to be a doctor or a businesswoman, but she squelched her ambition to support the needs of her family. In submitting to the life of a housewife, Miriam appeared to have been a negative role model for her daugther. Later, when Reichl discovered hidden diaries after Miriam's death, she began to understand the depth of her mother's sacrifices.
Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.
My m o t h e r' s n a m e w a s M i r i a m , but most people called her Mim. She was such a character that as a child I developed a special form of literature; it was known as the Mim Tale. This is one of my favorites. "Hurry up, hurry up," my mother is shouting as she races through our small apartment, "we're going to be late again!"
This is nothing new; my mother is incapable of arriving anywhere on time. But she has just become the leader of my Brownie troop, and the powers that be have emphasized the importance of punctuality. She grabs a red hat, crams it onto her head, and dashes for the door. I am right behind her. Just as the door begins to close Mom shouts, "Oh, no, I forgot the snack!"
"Mom," I moan. "You can't forget the snack again. You forgot it last week."
"Don't be fresh!" she snaps, inserting herself into the arc of the closing door. "We have no time to shop. Come back in and help me find something delicious."
"We don't have anything," I say flatly.
"Nonsense," she says, striding to the refrigerator. She surveys the contents with a gimlet eye and gingerly extracts a bowl. It is covered with bright blue fuzz, but she carefully scrapes this off, murmuring, "This must be that chocolate pudding I made last month." She pokes in a finger, tastes tentatively and says triumphantly, "What a good start!"
"There's not very much," I say hopefully. I am aware that any mention of the pudding's antique character will be unwelcome; my mother is a firm believer in the benign nature of mold. "It's not enough for all of us."
"I know that!" she says crossly. "We're going to stretch it. See what you can find in the cupboard."
"Like what?" I ask dubiously.
"Oh, use your imagination," she snaps.
I climb onto the stove so I can reach the cupboard, give the door, which sticks a bit, a firm yank and peer inside. I pull out a box of pretzels, a few prunes, a bag of very stale marshmallows and a jar of strawberry jam.
"Perfect!" says Mom. "Hand them down here. Anything else?"
Feeling it would be unwise to mention the sardines or the tin of liver pâté, I pass on to the can of peaches.
"Good," says Mom, "give me that too."
As I watch, Mom mixes the jam into the not very moldy chocolate pudding and adds the prunes. "Break those pretzels into little pieces," she commands, "while I chop up the marshmallows and slice the peaches. This is going to be delicious!"
Three minutes later she is wiping her hands.
"Let's go," she says.
"Aren't you taking plates?" I ask. "We can't just use our fingers."
Mom sticks a dozen soupspoons in her pocket and cries merrily, "The girls will think it's such fun to eat right out of the bowl!"