Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
When I picked up Molly Wizenberg’s second foodie memoir, Delancey, I did look at the subtitle: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. (It’s right there on the cover, after all.) But I had no idea how accurate it was, particularly the last phrase. Delancey chronicles the process of opening and running the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle, which Wizenberg co-founded with her husband, Brandon Pettit. But while it is a book about food (and contains a handful of mouthwatering recipes), Delancey is fundamentally a book about marriage.
Early in their relationship, Molly knew her husband was a dreamer. Brandon was always chasing some big idea or other: a violin workshop, an ice cream shop, a career as a composer and music teacher. When he mentioned opening a pizza restaurant, Molly didn’t pay much attention: she thought it was simply another one of his crazy ideas. But when she finally realized Brandon was serious, Molly had to confront the truth: this restaurant would change the rhythm of their family life significantly, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.
My husband is a marriage and family therapist, and his career led us to move from west Texas to Boston, four years ago. He works a lot of evenings, because people with nine-to-five jobs (like me) can only come to therapy after work, especially if they’re coming with their spouses or families. His work has changed our family life powerfully. And while I am glad and grateful he has a job he loves, I know a thing or two about supporting my spouse in an endeavor that belongs to him but also asks a lot of me. So Molly’s words about her journey toward accepting Delancey–both as Brandon’s new job and as a driving force in their family life–resonated deeply with me.
Wizenberg is a foodie, but she isn’t a super-fancy chef. The recipes in Delancey and A Homemade Life, her first memoir (which I also loved), are what she cooks for herself at home. Delancey is about a pizza restaurant, but there aren’t any pizza recipes here. There’s a fancy shortbread recipe involving candied ginger, and a couple of salads containing exotic ingredients, but there’s also pork fried rice, penne alla vodka, and two comfort food standouts: apple crisp and meatloaf.
Like all great food memoirs, Delancey is about food while really being about a dozen other things. It is about small business ownership, and friendship; it is about creating a workplace culture, and how to outfit a restaurant space from the ground up. But it is really the story of a marriage: about what happens when you commit to live your life with another person and to support them in all their endeavors. Even–perhaps especially–the ones that strike you as misguided, quixotic or just plain crazy.
Thought-provoking and warmhearted, tender and wryly funny, Delancey will spark important conversations while providing a feast for the senses.
Have you read Delancey? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!
The Great New Books team is planning to read more books this year, and we hope you are, too! Please stop by our 2015 Reading Challenge page and share your reading goals with us. We look forward to reading through the year with you!