Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.
Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.
I was excited to receive this book, because I read one of her non-fiction works last year, and was interested in how the food-memoir style of writing would come off in a fiction book. I must say this one fulfilled my expectations. It was a lovely little food-lovin’ book, filled with savory illustrations and references, but also including fun characters, some mystery and even a bit of romance. If you’re looking at it from a literary point of view, there’s not much of an antagonist. Things go a little too perfectly for our lovely Billie – but the thing is, I didn’t mind that. She’s a sweet character, and we decide that it’s good that things are going well for her – she’s endured enough hardship pre-novel.
I had no expectations going into this book, and didn’t even know what it was going to be about, so the story of the letters and the flashbacks to the times of victory garden cooking really intrigued me. I enjoyed the insight into that world and how prejudices toward Italian Americans were so fierce during that time that eating Italian food seemed un-American! I was so pleased that the Gingerbread recipe was included at the end of the book, and can’t wait to try making it!
It was a book I’d liken to “comfort food”. Good for the soul. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was much better than the first Reichl book I read, honestly.
Would I recommend this to my BFF? Absolutely!
Would I recommend this to my teen daughter? No, sadly, just because of a couple of “relationship” chapters.
4.5 of 5 stars on Goodreads