(At the end of this post there’s an opportunity to win your own copy of Delicious!)
Having read all of her four memoirs, I feel like I know Ruth Reichl. I’ve followed her from her childhood, growing up in New York and going to boarding school in Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, then marveling at her career as a restaurant critic in Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, and laughing at her capers as a New York Times restaurant critic in what is perhaps my favourite of her books, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise. When she took a turn away from food writing and examined her relationship with her mother in Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way (renamed For You, Mom, Finally in the paperback version), I was there too.
So when I heard that she had turned to fiction, I had to jump in and say, ‘Me! Me! Pick me!’, at the book tour coordinator. Luckily she heard me and a copy of Delicious! was soon on my doorstep (thanks Lisa!).
And I leaped right in with Billie Breslin as she auditions for the role of assistant to the editor of Delicious, the iconic food magazine of New York City. I loved the eccentric cast of characters, from a dog with a penchant for smoothies, the flamboyant travel editor Sammy, the chief test cook Maggie with her archive of a memory for Delicious’ recipes. And Sal and Rosalie who run the homey Fontanari’s where every customer is a familiar face.
There is a little romance going on as well as a bit of a mystery in the form of letters between a young girl and James Beard, complicated by an eccentric librarian’s unique shelving system.
But for me, this book’s charm lies in its gaggle of side characters. Fontanari’s, its staff and customers. The magazine and its masthead of eccentrics, from its smoothie-loving dog to mean Maggie. And their absolute love and passion for food, whether it be ethereal puffs of gnocchi or homemade cheese.
Oddly enough, Billie was my least favourite of the many characters. Perhaps it was her youth (that makes me feel so very old as I type those words!) and her occasional thoughtlessness.
As expected, some of the highlights of the book are the mouthwatering renditions of food that Reichl conjures. I often wondered if these were foods she had herself consumed, or cooked. And wished there were more recipes to go along with the book (they do provide the recipe for Billie’s famous ginger cake though). The incredible-sounding gnocchi cloud of parmesan, saffron, spinach and the so-subtle hint of curry leaf, which Billie, with her impeccable palate can discern, that we encounter in the first few pages are just the beginning.
Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! was an easygoing read. The friendly kind of book that would perk up your reading mojo.
Ruth Reichl was born and raised in Greenwich Village. She wrote her first cookbook at twenty-one, and went on to be the restaurant critic of both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. She was editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She now lives with her husband in upstate New York.
Connect with Ruth:
I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours
Check out the other tour stops!
Monday, April 28th: Sidewalk Shoes
Tuesday, April 29th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, April 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Saturday, May 3rd: Books a la Mode – spotlight/giveaway
Monday, May 5th: Book-alicious Mama
Tuesday, May 6th: Happy Pretty Sweet
Wednesday, May 7th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 8th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, May 9th: Joyfully Retired
Monday, May 12th: Olduvai Reads
Tuesday, May 13th: girlichef
Wednesday, May 14th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Thursday, May 15th: Bookfoolery
Thursday, May 15th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, May 19th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesdya, May 20th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, May 21st: Broken Teepee
Thursday, May 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 23rd: 2 Kids and Tired
TBD: Books in the City
***Thanks to Random House and TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of Delicious! and for providing another copy for giveaway! Please leave a comment below, telling me your favourite food magazine or cookbook, before May 19 2014 for an opportunity to win. And a way of contacting you too! US addresses only please.***