Delicious!, A novel by Ruth Reichl: “I have so many memories wrapped up in this cake. All I have to do is start grating ginger and I’m ten years old again…..Is my gingerbread as good as the one my mother made? How could I possibly know? But I do know this: it’s good enough.” ~ Billie Breslin
I received this book for Mother’s day from my husband (he’s so good at buying the gifts I point to and tell him I want) and finished it in 2 days. It was easy to read and filled with heart, not to mention so much descriptive narration of food that you are literally hungry for more with the turn of every page.
Plot Synopsis (as written on the book over): Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.
To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.
There’s a warmth you feel from these characters, that surrounds you as you read, filling you with the comfort of old friends. And there’s a deep love and regard for food. It’s respected, treated with care. Old recipes guarded like secrets. Billie often talks about her gingerbread cake. It’s her go-to recipe. The recipe she created as a child and refuses to share with her friends. There is so much connection between the character and the recipe that when you discover that its included in the book you feel like you have been given a gift.
I’m not going to share the recipe because I think you should read the book and discover the joy for yourself, but I will say this, its amazing. Yes, it requires some prep-work, with all the grinding of fresh spices, and grating ginger and zesting of orange, but it’s totally worth it. It will fill your kitchen with a sweet spicy aroma and it will change the way you think about gingerbread. It bakes up moist and gets a boozy bourbon glaze. It goes great when paired with tea, or coffee. The book and the cake are perfect, and would be an excellent choice for book club. I highly recommend them both.
Until Next Time….
I would never take the time to grind up all those spices that are called for in the recipe. I did just finish the book. Thanks for sharing. Also, if you’d like to share a piece of the cake you can drop it off after you pick up your kids. 😉