03 May 2014

Weekend Cooking: Delcious! by Ruth Reichl

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Delicious by Ruth ReichlI know I don't have to introduce you to Ruth Reichl. Even if you haven't read any of her memoirs (Not Becoming My Mother, for example) or her restaurant reviews (for both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times), you're likely to be familiar with her work as the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.

I have always liked Reichl's style: I enjoyed all her memoirs and looked forward to every one of her editorials in Gourmet. When I heard she turned her hand to fiction, I was already predisposed to like it. I'm so glad I managed to find the time to read Delicious! I loved seeing the New York food scene through the young protagonist's eyes.
  • The general plot: Billie Breslin leaves college and her California birthplace to take a shot at being a food writer in New York. She is thrilled to land a job at Delicious! magazine, even if one of her major tasks is fielding the recipe hotline. When the magazine closes down, Billie's job is the only one to survive; after all, people are still cooking out of old issues and still have questions. When she and a colleague visit the magazine's long-abandoned library after the demise of Delicious!, they uncover a secret that involves a famous chef (James Beard!), a young girl, and World War II intelligence. Will they be able figure out the entire story before the building is sold?
  • What I liked: It was so much fun to read about Billie's adventures in the city and to meet the people she befriends: a cheese shop owner, a restaurant chef, a travel writer, the cooks in the test kitchen, and so on. I liked the mix of plot lines too. Besides figuring out the James Beard World War II mystery, Billie is coming into her own as an adult, gaining self-confidence and even finding a little romance. I rooted for Billie and smiled as she began to embrace her personal style.
  • For food lovers: My mouth watered at the descriptions of the foods: cheeses, cakes, succulent meats, wines, and pastas. When combing through the library at Delicious!, Billie comes across all kinds of fascinating advice for how to cook and eat during times of rationing; did you know that parts of milkweed are edible?
  • General thoughts: Reichl held her own as a novelist. She gave Delicious! a strong foundation in what she's familiar with: the food scene in New York and life after the death of a magazine. Sure, there were few surprises in the romance department. but the library mystery was little more difficult to figure out. The characters are well constructed, and I love any novel that makes me want to spend time in the kitchen. Think of Delicious! as a relaxing weekend read, and you won't be disappointed.
  • Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Random House Audio; 12 hr, 58 min), read by one of my favorite narrators, Julia Whelan. Whelan did a fine job keeping me fully engaged in the novel. Her voice was perfect for the twenty-something Billie, and although Whelan doesn't overly dramatize each individual character, I had no trouble figuring out who was doing the talking. Whelan's a little weaker on some of the accents, but I still recommend the audiobook for those who want to listen instead of read.
Published by Random House, 2014 (May 6)
ISBN-13: 9781400069620
Source: Review (print & audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Laurie C 5/3/14, 7:02 AM  

I have Delicious! but haven't had time to start it yet. Too many things going on at work. :(

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 5/3/14, 7:31 AM  

Delicious is on my TBR list-it sounds like a fun read, can't wait!!

Tina 5/3/14, 7:55 AM  

I have the book, won it from a library site and am excited to start it. I always enjoyed Gourmet magazine and am a big fan of Ruth Reichel. Great review. I haven't tried audio books in ages and need to try those again

Beth S. 5/3/14, 8:01 AM  

I have yet to read any of Reichl's books. I feel like a horrible foodie for saying that. I need to remedy that error quickly! :)

Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice 5/3/14, 8:12 AM  

This one is on my list. Moving to "the big city" to work at a magazine used to be my dream job. I'm still addicted to foodie magazines, so I can't wait to read this.

jama 5/3/14, 12:32 PM  

Thanks for the nice review. Adding it to my TBR list this minute. :)

Joy 5/3/14, 1:14 PM  

This touches on several interests: food, of course, and World War II (especially home front problems), and libraries. Adding to the TBR, thanks!

Joy's Book Blog

Peaceful Reader 5/3/14, 9:06 PM  

This is one I should buy for my mother. I love that milkweed has an edible part.

Couscous & Consciousness 5/3/14, 9:31 PM  

ve always enjoyed Ruth Reichel's writing too, so this sounds like a great read to me. I've just added this to my "must read" list.

Teddyree 5/4/14, 4:07 AM  

Oh this sounds like fun, and I'm up for another audio with a great narrator so thanks for the recommendation!

Sandy Nawrot 5/4/14, 3:41 PM  

She is such a multi-talented woman. Here I thought she'd done it all, but for her to whip out a fictional novel and succeed...wow. I'm all over this one.

Melissa (Avid Reader) 5/6/14, 10:08 AM  

I hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds delightful!

Meg @ write meg! 5/6/14, 3:19 PM  

This one is in my stack -- I'm so very excited to read it! Enjoyed your review.

Margot 5/8/14, 2:38 PM  

I just finished Delicious! I waited to read your review until I had. If you didn't like it, I didn't want to know that until I was done. Thankfully, we had the same reaction. Ruth Reichl has yet to write a mediocre book, in my opinion, and I'm so glad she succeeded in the fiction world. My review is due tomorrow and I'll link up with you on Saturday for Weekend Cooking.

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