Ruth Reichl: Food Righter

Carina and I at Octavia Park - Hayes Valley April2010

I say it was our mothers; you call it whatever you want. Carina and I grew up in a space bubble of peace. Santa Cruz, California. Carefully cultivated by vivacious women seeking the best opportunities, always emphasizing comprehensive wellness through a powerful respect for existence. Carina and I are daughters of incredible awareness. We were born into a revolution of personal responsibility. Myself, Franco-American, Carina, Jewish-Salvadorian, our identities were molded at a very young age.

Carina left for the bright lights and expanse of L.A. seeking more opportunity and endless food trucks. A year later I joined the light-always-on, festivalian New Orleans, LA. After five years of crawfish and hot summer sweats, I am back in San Francisco and cannot get enough of the seasonal organic produce. I savor every last dime of the cash only mantra. I resonate with car-free city living. I’m in absolute love. Despite her deep aversion for hippie-derived living, Carina, my deep-fried loving, plastic loving, queen of convenience, was equally smitten upon her last visit. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve seen if you forget where you’ve come from. Her visit included devouring Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires. Despite our differences, Carina and I’s shared similarities pervade preference. We have a penchant for intelligent women, genuine integrity, forming calculated opinions, and knowing the best way to someone’s brain is through their stomach. Carina is business, I am creative, Ruth Reichl’s mother used to prepare “canned asparagus, mayonnaise, marshmallow fluff and pickled herring.” We are all striving to spread an appreciation for camaraderie, communication, and just sharing a meal.

Proverbially, a beet in the hand is greater than a donut around your waist. Ironically, I consider myself a couth gourmand. Idealistically, I am a warrior fighting the war on human elitism. Realistically, I am constantly encouraging my community to focus on positivity. I lack compassion for processed garbage. I possess an inexhaustible palette, an arduous recognition of culinaria, and tenaciously assume the role of relentless evangelist for bright, locally grown sustainable foods.

My brash approach to represent myself as an individual has as result, fervently rejected “trend.” The same attitude has provided for an unusual immunity to celebrity, averting admiration based on popularity. Our nation’s slowly churning minds, bogged by big Macs and bigger Gulps, are slowing acknowledging the immediate need for change. Obesity and depression should be reason enough to change our minds, body, and planet. A healthy America can be grown from this soiled land.

On the morning of April 20th I joined a full audience for an intimate living room chat with a mogul for healthful, proactive living. I was awestricken by the political activism Gourmet Magazine provided America, specifically during Ruth Reichl’s tenure.

Ruth Reichl - SF Jewish Community Center 4/20/10

Reichl, former editor-in-chief of the late Gourmet Magazine, rejects the notion that quality in any form be labeled as elitism. Modern society has suffocated intelligence to a degree that has been detrimental to the formation of a nurturing culture.

Microcosms of this whole-love approach to life exist all over the United States, fighting for a global shift towards personal responsibility and cognizance of repercussion. Macrocosms like the greater San Francisco Bay Area have been fostering a conscious approach to living for decades. Following her deep involvement in Berkeley’s 70s co-operative food revolution, Ruth’s heartfelt writing inspired fine dining to re-evaluate the individual. She reminded restaurants that the honor should be bestowed upon the customer. That respect is due to thy neighbor. Our intelligence should be regarded as a gift to cultivate true happiness in all persons. Through food we can fuel and nurture our bodies, minds, and spirits.

I nearly became tongue-tied delivering the final audience question. I realized that I’d been duped. Celebrity awe-stricken by the genuine candor of such an influential, dare I say, icon. I worry that I inaccurately depict her honest awareness by revering her as anything other than a truly compassionate human being. There is no doubt in my mind that Ruth possesses all the qualities of a timeless change-maker. She reassures me that my honest efforts at doing right by my community can be rewarded with a private bathroom in an editorial office. Despite a driver, Ruth still walked to work daily. Her connectivity to life, happiness, and the human desire to belong, never dissolved from her pool of motivational drive. Her commitment to exposing truth transcended Gourmet Magazine. Political change was activated after an exposé on migrant tomato pickers in Florida being treated as no more than slaves. There was a substantial amount of time devoted to audience question, and in typical form* I felt the need to round out the session with a thought-provoking question. I asked Ruth what she thought the easiest way for an individual (probing the audience to pay attention in their personal lives) to become politically active in eradicating toxic ingredients from food production. She responded directly to me, making complete eye contact despite the distance and bright lights. She urged everyone to remain aware themselves of the impact of toxicity and to actively engage our peers, neighbors, and friends to follow suit. I urge you to follow suit.

Ruth Reichl signed my book | "fast to it. peace"

I find it to be no coincidence that behind Ruth’s genuine grin are the words “fast to it” and “peace.” Absorb every clue, because our interpersonal relations turn nourishment into a story of community.  As I anarchically fight, for the right, to (organic) baaaaarley – my couth transforms into uncouth. While trend expires, the need for respect does not. For this, Ruth has forged a path for celebrity voice being about the movement, not about the deliverer. I thank her wholeheartedly. This is a delicious trend that I wouldn’t have prepared any other way.

*I also asked the final question during Sheryl Crow and Laurie David’s (Larry David’s former wife) American “Fight Global Warming” bio-diesel bus tour. What can one person do to make a difference? My attempt to influence each individual in the audience to listen to a celebrity whose word, in their mind, holds more weight. In high school I also garnered the final question during a GirlsRock! conference in Santa Cruz. Asking Gloria Steinem how she thought best a high school girl could change negative image. I encourage through question. Ask yourself, how can you make difference?

In LOVE with San Francisco

About the Author: d’Auria is the owner of olive, you &me creative studio, a freelance mover and shaker, and would always rather cook at home than eat out. After five years of New Orleans, she is back in her native Bay. Residing in San Francisco and spending a substantial amount of time in the quiet and comfortable Hayes Valley, she can’t get enough of the variable Vietnamese spring roll nor the abundance of artfully crafted micro-brew coffee. Like a bird, she tweets! (@dauria)


1 Comment

  1. Beautiful story, D! You’re a wonderful woman who will do great things to change the world in a positive direction. The world needs more quirky talented people. Thank you for contributing to UG.

    Much love,

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