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Tender at the Bone

            Ruth Reichl makes it obvious from the beginning of "Tender at the Bone-, that she grew up in a far from ordinary family, her mother being the cause of much of this weirdness. Her mother plays the central role in her family and thus has a powerful impact on Ruth. This impact is vast and cannot be defined as entirely positive or negative, but it can be said that Ruth's mother has had such an intense influence on Ruth that many of her choices and actions later in her life are determined by those early years spent with her mother. .
             One of the first things Ruth mentions about her mother is her love for everything exotic. From her choice in food, to her choice in home décor, Ruth's mother is the extreme experimentalist. She doesn't conform to the standards of society, be it by way of her "everything stew-, which is admittedly made from 2-week-old turkey, or by her entirely gold gilded bathroom. While some would say this is merely quirky, it goes beyond that, to Ruth's mother, her peculiarities and strange behaviors are a source of pride. She is not ashamed of her ways, and openly shares her latest recipes, even if they do cause a minor outbreak of food poisoning. This attitude affects Ruth greatly; She adopts an ability to look past the boundaries of the ordinary, and is thus introduced to a life of people and experiences that is truly unique. This is first really seen when she befriends Serafina. Serafina should have been "off limits- in terms of friendship to Ruth, social barriers should have held her back from developing a close relationship with her, yet Ruth does not let the fact that Serafina is black, and eventually a black activist, stand in the way of her being Serafina's closest companion. When Serafina comes up with the spur of the moment idea of visiting her homeland of Algeria, Ruth quickly packs her bag and runs off, never questioning the sanity of the plan.

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