New York Times food critic and Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl visits Baltimore for the first time on Wednesday, May 20, as part of a book tour promoting her newest book Delicious!
The event will be held at 7 p.m. on the first floor of the Central Library at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Reichl, has written several memoirs, but this is her first foray into novel writing.
"I grew up in the publishing business," says the six-time James Beard Award-winner whose book was just released in paperback. "My father was a book designer and I always accepted that writing fiction was the highest calling. I grew up with no religion, except books. In the back of my head, I kept saying, 'Someday, I'm going to write a novel.'"
Reichl's Delicous! details the adventures of ferocious foodie and California transplant Billie Breslin, who lands a job as executive assistant to the editor of a venerable food magazine.
When the magazine abruptly shuts down, Billie stays in the office to maintain the reader complaint hotline. In the magazine's library she stumbles on letters written by a 12-year-old girl to the legendary chef James Beard during WWII.
It's The Devil Wears Prada with a soupçon of Top Chef (of which Reichl has been a judge).
The prolific author, who wrote her first cookbook at age 21, is also putting the finishing touches on her cookbook-cum-memoir entitled My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.
It's her first cookbook in more than 40 years.
"It begins with the closing of Gourmet," says Reichl, who famously wore disguises while reviewing New York City's temples of haute cuisine. "Because of my work, I hadn't been able to seriously cook in a long time. Cooking really did save my life—I was so devastated by the closing of the magazine. It's the most personal thing I've ever written."
In addition to sharing her thoughts on the role cooking has played in her life, the book includes recipes such as fried oysters, roast chicken, and a bread recipe adapted from famed Sullivan St. Bakery's Jim Lahey.
"I was up in the country making the dough when the power went out," recalls Reichl of the recipe, "and I just kept punching it down for three days until finally I baked it—it's even better if you just keep it going. I contacted him and got his permission to use the recipe."
So how does the talented cook and country's best food writer look back on her career?
"I would just say that I've been fortunate enough to have been witness to the American food revolution," she says. "A chef once said to me, 'Every time I look up, there you are with a pad in your hand.' I was lucky enough to have been interested in writing about food five minutes before anyone else was interested."
For more information about the event, to reserve a seat, or to buy a copy of Delicious! online, go here.