Billie is a young woman who is hired on as the assistant to the editor of a food magazine called Delicious!. The novel tells some hilarious stories about the people and food she encounters. As with Reichl's other books, the food descriptions are top notch and made me salivate quite regularly. In the novel, James Beard was a flashback character, and Billie discovers about his time at the magazine though a series of letters written to him by a young reader.
The book was an easy read. There were a few plot points that I saw coming but also some that weren't as obvious. I came to really like Billie and her colleagues and friends. I especially liked Sammy, the magazine's travel writer, who invited Billie for a memorable meal on Thanksgiving - which had the following menu:
- white wine
- gorgonzola souffle
- calamari with aioli
- salad of bitter greens with Champagne vinaigrette
- poached pears with chocolate caramel sauce
While explaining the meal, Sammy said, "My apologies if you are dismayed by my reluctance to hew to the standard menu. But I must admit that I have always considered the turkey a rather regrettable bird. I should have queried you in advance; are you very disappointed?" To which Billie replied, "'Not at all.' How could I be? Sammy's gorgonzola souffle was little more than intensely fragrant air, so ethereal it floated into my mouth, where it delivered a surprisingly powerful punch." This non-traditional meal cemented Billie's and Sammy's friendship and they went on to discover the Beard letters together.
The picture in this post is my watercress and chive souffle. Souffle is not actually that hard to make but it does need to be served immediately as it deflates quickly after coming out of the oven.
I really enjoyed reading this book - it was the perfect way to start my summer holiday. I hope the other members of the Kitchen Reader book club also liked it. Would you like to join us? Next month we are reading Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley, a memoir of a food-loving cartoonist, all drawn in pictures. It sounds fascinating!
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