My first post this year and it’s a review of a book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Reading Delicious by Ruth Reichl was like savouring my favourite candy and not wanting it to finish. The blurb on the back cover did not sound very promising but thankfully my book angels hovering around did their bit, and the next thing I knew, there I was returning from the library with Delicious nestling comfortable in my bag.
Ruth Reichl presents a delectable tale, creating magic with her words. “And I watched, fascinated, as the supple, plump, purple vanilla beans withered into brittle brown pods and surrendered their perfume to the air.” My mind conjured up exotic images of beautiful vanilla beans and I could almost inhale their fragrance. Exquisitely crafted sentences are one of the main attractions of this book. As the name suggests, this book is something to be enjoyed slowly, imbibing its true essence and locking it in our hearts to be taken out and savoured much later, when we feel the need for a tinge of magic in our lives. Ruth was the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine for 10 years and her love for the culinary world is amply visible in Delicious.
Delicious is the story of Billie Breslin and her journey of discovery, redemption and healing. She’s a gifted cook, but an event in her past has traumatised her to such an extent that she stops doing what she loves the most. But its impossible to stay away from the culinary world so she moves to New York to work in a food magazine called Delicious. Here she enters an exotic world full of vibrant characters, right from her slightly eccentric boss Jake to a delightful tweed-clad world traveller and writer, Sammy. Then there’s the flamboyant Sal, the owner of a shop selling cheese and a chef called Thursday (she’s only a minor character but I loved her name !). Billie slowly emerges from the shell she had withdrawn into and blossoms under the guidance and tutelage of people who truly care for her. A turning point in the story occurs when Billie accidentally stumbles upon a secret room in the library of Delicious and discovers some old letters from a 12 yr old child, Lulu Swan, written during World War II. Lulu’s father’s off fighting in the war and her mother works in a factory. Lulu’s trying to help out her mother with the housework. She writes to James Beard who at that time was an acclaimed food writer at Delicious. Billie sets out to trace all of Lulu’s exchanges with Mr.Beard, because she’s struck by the resourcefulness and zeal for life reflected in the letters. There’s something very precious about the plucky 12 yr old writing so confidently to a famous writer about the trials she undergoes during her stints in the kitchen. The quest for these letters sees Billie going through heart ache, connecting with her father, and ultimately forgiving herself.
Delicious is an unabashedly feel-good novel with all the necessary ingredients; a shy but extremely talented heroine transforming and coming into her own; a physical makeover under the guidance of a benevolent mentor and a happy ending. I love such books. They keep me happy on many a day when the blues invade my mind. I feel that Delicious is a book to be owned, so that we can keep going back to it to get a whiff of happiness and a scent of spices.
I had only one problem with Delicious; it made me very hungry 🙂