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Ruth Reichl Talks Sex, Comfort Food and the American Hatred of Kale

I first met Ruth Reichl 15 years ago at a White House reception hosted by the Clintons. The former restaurant critic and Gourmet top editor was gracious then and gracious the other morning, considering I turned up at her apartment earlier than expected and caught her barefoot. “Bagel and lox?” she offered, before we chatted about food and sex as well as her first cookbook in 40 years, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. Before I left, Ms. Reichl handed me an Esopus Spitzenburg—“Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple,” she noted. And on the way down to her lobby, the elevator operator gave her a four-star review: “Nice lady.”

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