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Book Review: Delicious!

January 4, 2015

Ruth Reichl
Random House, 2014
Source: Gift from my Aunt Ruthanne

Aunt Ruthanne recommended this book, and even gave me a copy as a present. Thank you, Aunt Ruthanne! You were right: it’s perfect!

I loved this book. I tore through it, tried to slow down to savor it properly. Couldn’t. Stayed up far too late finishing it last night. I have absolutely no regrets. Okay, one regret, one that happens every time I read an excellent foodie novel: I wish the characters were real people, ideally, real people who were friends with me… so they could cook me the foods Reichl describes so beautifully in her wonderful prose. From gingerbread to gnocchi to pig’s ears. Yes. (I might have been drooling on the pages. Slightly.)

Delicious! has everything I love best about a good foodie book, all rolled into one. It combines cooking, warm, eccentric characters, New York, historical mystery, even libraries. I might have to go back and reread. Possibly immediately.

The story in brief: Billie was born with an amazing palate, the gift to pick apart the flavors in anything she tasted. (Reichl’s prose describing these tastes was beautifully constructed and vivid.) Almost everyone who meets her thinks she should be a chef, but the idea gives her a panic attack. The closest she’s willing to come is working for a foodie magazine called Delicious. It’s an ensemble cast of eccentrics: Vile-tempered Maggie the chef, Sal, the proprietor of a downtown Italian market I wish existed. Sammy, the globe-trotting correspondent who takes Billie under his wing.

Oh, and if I wanted the book to be any more perfect… there’s a library with a truly screwball cataloging system. Yes, it’s a foodie novel with gorgeous prose and eccentric characters, set in New York. And there’s a library. And an archival puzzle to solve. It was sweet. funny, goofy, and beautifully written.

Like I said: perfect.

I might be short on sleep, but it’s totally worth it. I’m extremely pleased to have started the year with this book.

Might even reread it.


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