Ruth Reichl Recalls That Vicious Review of Delicious!

Author chats ahead of pair of same-day events in Madison.

Last year around this time, Dwight Garner was decimating Ruth Reichl’s novel Delicious! in the pages of The New York Times. Here’s a brief reminder:

It’s a gauzy ode to the liberating virtues of pleasure, glazed with warmth and uplift, so feebly written and idea-free that it will make you wonder if the energy we’ve been putting into food these last few decades hasn’t made us each lose, on average, a dozen IQ points.

Garner’s slam of the one-time NYT journalist’s effort reverberated far and wide, prompting for example Los Angeles magazine a few days later to itemize the review’s “5 Most Cringeworthy Slams.” A year later, Reichl tells the Wisconsin State Journal that memories of the crit-eek! still sting:

Not only was it the nastiest take-down of anything she’d ever written, Reichl said it was the worst review she’d ever read…

“It was devastatingly bad. I’ve never read a worse review of anything,” Reichl, 67, said by phone from the home in New York City she shares with her husband, Michael Singer, a retired CBS News producer. The couple has a 26-year-old son, Nick, who works as a filmmaker.

As Journal reporter Samara Kalk Debry notes, the Times ran a second review of Delicious! a few weeks later by Kate Christensen. That one was much nicer.

Reichl is co-presenting a Tuesday lunchtime fundraiser in Madison for the Madison Public Library Foundation’s Wisconsin Book Festival. Attendees will sample food and drinks made by local female chefs and mixologists, as well as receive a signed copy of Delicious! The author will also speak and read from her book that same night at the Central Library.

In the article, former Gourmet magazine critic Reichl also shares some interesting thoughts on today’s U.S. household tendency towards take-out and restaurant meals.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Random House]