When I sit down with Molly Wizenberg’s writing, it feels as though she’s just across the counter, coffee cup in hand, sharing an intimate truth. Author of “A Homemade Life” and the blog, “Orangette,” Wizenberg’s writing is lively and richly detailed. Whether she’s explaining restaurant payroll or why sliced peaches in chilled wine taste so good, I lean in. Her latest work, “Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage” (Simon & Schuster, $25), tells her story of creating the restaurant of the same name with her husband. Wizenberg will be in town on Wednesday to talk about her book.
The book opens as she and Brandon Pettit, a grad student in music at the University of Washington, open a pizzeria in an up-and-coming Seattle neighborhood. He is a man of many talents (the guy builds boats, violins and killer pizza), she’s a woman of elegant aesthetic and winning recipes. But, as Molly finds out, running a restaurant is not like hosting dinner parties, and the timing couldn’t have been worse. Molly tries to reconcile her desire to help her husband with the demands of her own writing until the strain proves too much.
I won’t tell you how it is all resolved because this is a story well told. Inspiring, entertaining and informative, the book is a satisfying read. Chapters are anchored with recipes for homey staples such as a great meatloaf sandwich and surprising delights, including the recipe here for dates sautéed in olive oil.
In a recent phone conversation with Wizenberg, she talked about the role that blogging plays in forging the connection with her readers, all of which energizes her prose.
“Blogging is a casual place to practice, to work on ideas and flesh them out. Working on a book allows more time and room to expand on the stories seeded in the blog,” she said.
What’s next? “I’m thinking of a more traditional cookbook. In ‘Delancey,’ I tell so much about the menu and dishes. A cookbook would allow me to share our recipes that have evolved over time,” she said.
As for the nature of looking at the meals that sustain us, Wizenberg noted, “Food writing allows me the lens for understanding my own life. It’s the organizing principle behind my stories.”
And it’s a valuable rallying cry for home cooks.
Beth Dooley is the author of “Minnesota’s Bounty” and “The Northern Heartland Kitchen.”