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Book Review: Insatiable – Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess by Gael Greene

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"For me, the two greatest discoveries of the twentieth century were the Cuisinart and the clitoris."

So says Gael Greene, insatiable food critic extraordinaire, who has indulged her appetites for fun, frolic, and food in a delicious excess of foreplay and fork play. Described as the tastiest, most uninhibited memoir in years, her latest offering, Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess, is a feast for the senses and an aphrodisiac for the soul.

Over the past four decades Greene has reviewed and reveled in New York's finest restaurants, her spicy commentary introducing readers to each new and delicious culinary trend. Delivering a delectable recipe of haute cuisine, signature fashion, and unfurling world events, Greene's decadent memoir is all the more tasty for its delicious descriptions of sexual trysts with a tasty selection of famous men.

With a prodigious appetite for all things sensual, her affairs are as bountiful and indulgent as her meals. With chapter titles like "Splendour in the Foie Gras", "Slow Death By Mayonnaise", and "Bonfire of the Foodies", and flavoured with such marvelous male ingredients as Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, and Clint Eastwood, the book is a mouth-watering memoir of life's juiciest pleasures.

Emerging from her humble midwest Velveeta beginnings, Greene takes her readers on a saucy, all-expenses paid romp through New York, France, and beyond, as she pursues her sybaritic lifestyle among the famous and the fabulous. After a groundbreaking charge into territory not usually reserved for women and with no training as a restaurant critic when she signed on with a fledgling New York Magazine in 1968, she successfully negotiated the same terms as her idol at the New York Times, Craig Claiborne. These included eating at every reviewed restaurant three times, with friends, with the magazine paying the cheque!

"I wanted to feel every nerve ending – to taste it all."

Greene has done just that and describes each delicious morsel with glorious and gluttonous gusto. With a ferocious wit and even fiercer appetite, the lid is lifted on her delicious life and insatiable petite aventures with gratuitous lashings of delectably described meals. The menus of such institutions as Le Pavillon, Lutece, Troisgros, and Tour d'Argent are almost orgasmic in their recounting while her recollections are peppered with intimate portrayals of such culinary icons as Jean Troisgros, Gilbert LeCoze, and Julia Child.

Despite admitting that, "I almost never recognize a trend until it starts annoying me", Gael Greene's insatiable hunger for experience and her enormous life force were an inspirational dynamic behind the Foodie Revolution and transformed the way a nation viewed their food. Four decades at the top of the food chain have seen her introduce readers to every culinary trend from nouvelle cuisine to Asian fusion.

Not content with living a purely hedonistic lifestyle, Greene also recognized the spectre of hunger on her own streets, starting Citymeals-on-Wheels with James Beard in 1981, a program that delivers meals to 2.2 million homebound and elderly people.

Like a good meal, her luscious memoir should be savoured and enjoyed. A feast for the senses, it is, like Greene's meal at The Palace, "Too much. Too much. Just enough."  As Greene concludes: "I fully expect to go on eating and critiquing and that on my deathbed my last words will echo those of Brillat-Savarin's sister, who cried, "Bring on dessert. I'm about to die." Insatiable reading, Greene's life of delicious excess is wholly satisfying.

I'll have what she's having…

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