* CONTAINS SPOILERS
As usual, I didn’t fully read the book synopsis. I just read Delicious! was about food and ordered it. I thought it was solely about working at a food magazine and then the magazine goes under in the first few chapters. Whoops!
Insecure Billie Breslin decides to drop out of college in California to work for big food magazine, Delicious in New York City. She adjusts to living in the Big Apple by becoming friends with her co-workers and taking on a part-time job at an Italian deli. Everything would be perfect if it wasn’t for the picky man who comes in every Sunday to the deli or the guilty thoughts about her family lingering in the back of her mind. When the magazine is abruptly shut down, Billie stays on in the magazine’s beautiful mansion to field complaints and requests for the magazine’s “Delicious Guarantee”. Alone in the mansion, Billie discovers in the library letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a young girl from Ohio to legendary chef, James Beard. The letters are sad, funny and educational, inspiring Billie to learn more about Lulu. With a little help, she begins the challenge of finding all of the hidden letters before the mansion is sold and solving the bigger mystery of who is Lulu Swan and what happened to her.
I love food so much I want to cry sometimes. I thought Delicious! would be a great combination of my two loves: food and fiction. The walk Billie takes through various New York neighbourhoods, tasting and learning about different kinds of food was pretty spectacular and made me wish so hard I could be in her shoes. The glorious descriptions of food dwindle as the story progresses, but without a doubt, food has a starring role in the book.
I thought the ugly duckling storyline with Billie was boring and nothing we haven’t read before. Her constant comparisons to her beautiful and perfect sister were overplayed and nauseating.
Author, Ruth Reichl’s was formerly Editor in Chief of the now defunct Gourmet Magazine, one of many distinguished food writing gigs, so she knows a thing or two about food and food magazines. I really enjoyed reading about how Delicious was run and the network between the magazine and New York chefs, restaurants and shops. I wasn’t expecting the mystery of Lulu Swan to be a predominant plot, but it kept my interest and had a satisfactory conclusion. Some of the other plots were less interesting, such as the drama involving Billie’s sister and her lukewarm romance with the mysterious deli customer. The ending wraps everything up too neatly in my opinion, but overall I liked this book and think it would make a pleasant summer read.
What good books featuring food have you read? Hmm…suddenly I feel hungry!