Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Delancey, Molly Wizenberg

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage


Molly Wizenberg

Category: Nonfiction: Memoir; Food & Cooking, Marriage

Synopsis: Wizenberg recounts the opening of Delancey, her husband’s dream-come-true pizza parlor.

Date finished: 9 June 2014

Rating: *****

I’ve read some lackluster memoirs this year, and I’ve never been able to get into Wisenberg’s blog Orangette, so I had low expectations for this one—even though the excerpt I read online was excellent. I remember having Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life on my bookshelves for a long time before donating it. I guess I lost interest. But after reading Delancey, I’ll be re-buying a copy.

I really enjoyed this book. Pure and simple. It surpassed my expectations. You know I love a good food memoir, but finding good books about regular marriages are hard to come by. I can’t think of more than a couple. This book brings the two together, and I was a happy girl.

Frankly, I’m unsure exactly why this was such a good read. There isn’t a whole lot of action, and there aren’t even a whole lot of personalities. The book basically just takes the reader through the process of establishing and running a pizzeria in Seattle. There are lots of ups and downs, (mostly downs) as you can imagine. And one of these is how Wizenberg’s marriage changes.

Wizenberg is a smart writer. Her spare style knows just what details to include to give the whole picture but not bog the reader down. Perhaps this comes from being a cook and knowing what spice to use and how much to enhance the dish instead of change it into something else entirely.

But as I alluded to, the part of the book that intrigued me the most was how their young marriage changed when their restaurant actually comes into being. Have you ever worked with your spouse on a major project only to find you really don’t work together well? Or one of you takes over? Or one of you gets jealous of the other’s time spent on said project? Yeah. I have. This wasn’t exactly the trouble for Wizenberg and her husband, Brandon, though. Her problem was the inability to fully commit to the restaurant, and when committed, still be who she thought she was. She writes: “Brandon has pointed out, and I agree, that we probably wouldn’t be married anymore if (1) I hadn’t worked at Delancey and (2) I hadn’t stopped working at Delancey.” This really hit home for me. As wives we want to be supportive and we want to be our best selves, but sometimes we have to let go of what isn’t working to be our best.

So, the book is a little more complex than the title suggests, and I appreciate that. If you like books about food and restaurants or memoirs about marriage, this one is definitely worth a read.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

You might also enjoy:
Yes, Chef
Sous Chef (review forthcoming)


  1. I also really enjoy reading about food and cooking, and I liked this book a lot. Have you read "Wife Of The Chef" by Courtney Febbroriello? It's another interesting take on the restaurant/marriage dynamic.

    1. I haven't read "Wife of the Chef." I'll go check it out now. Thanks for the tip.