Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

A Novel by Ruth Reichl
Hardcover, 400 pages

I love Ruth Reichl. I first saw her in a glimpse of the movie Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers on my little black and white set my friend's father built for me out of scrap TV parts. She has such a presence, so much going on in that mind of hers. I have never forgotten her.

In fact her memoir-type books - Tender at the Bone, Garlic and Sapphires, and Comfort Me with Apples are some of my favourite books.

Ruth seems to have a way of using all her senses all the time and opening us up to the true meaning of sensuality. Colours are brighter, flavours have stories, scents contain magic.

Delicious! is a novel, but you can certainly spot semi-autobiographical elements all through the book. And that is a good thing - it is the Ruth Reichl that we adore.

It reads a little like a fairytale. Ruth takes your hand and brings you along with her in the story and I found it uplifting and comforting at the same time.

From the back flap:

In her bestselling memoirs Ruth Reichl has long illuminated the theme of how food defines us, and never more so than in her dazzling fiction debut about sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must finally let go of guilt and grief to embrace her own true gifts.

Billie Breslin has travelled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is suddenly shut down, the colourful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”–a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries–until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colourful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors. And from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues–the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.

Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples. She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She lives in New York City with her husband, son, and two cats.