Orangette pens a memoir

Molly Wizenberg's popular blog Orangette, and her first book, My Homemade Life, are both indexed on EYB and can be found on many EYB members' Bookshelves. Molly has just published a second book, Delancey, a memoir that chronicles the opening of the restaurant she co-owns with her husband Brandon, and how that stressful time triggered the first crisis of her young marriage.

The book features evocative photos by Molly along with twenty recipes for simple yet delicious dishes. We are excited to let you get a sneak peek into the book with an excerpt from the first chapter. You can also enter our contest for your chance to win one of two copies of Delancey.

Molly WizenbergFrom Chapter One of Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage:

…while most of his peers were off wrestling in the yard, breaking things, or lighting household pets on fire, Brandon got a lot of positive attention for cooking. His uncle Tom offered to teach him how to make a few dishes, and so did his mother's friend Ellen. His best friend Steve 's mother, Laura, taught him how to make penne alla vodka when he was in middle school. Afterward, before he went home, she dumped out a small Poland Spring water bottle, refilled it with vodka, and gave it to him so that he could make the recipe for his parents. His mother found it in his backpack later that night, and you know how that story goes.

Meanwhile, I grew up 1,500 miles to the west, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the only child in a  family  so  preoccupied with cooking and eating that we would regularly spend dinner discussing what we might eat the following night. My parents met in Baltimore and courted over oysters and pan-fried shad roe, and though they had lived in the land of waving wheat and chicken-fried steak since a few years before I was born, they took pleasure in introducing me to lobster, croissants, and Dover sole. My father was a radiation oncologist, and he worked full-time until he was nearly seventy, but most evenings, after pouring himself a Scotch and thumbing absentmindedly through the mail, he made dinner. It wasn't necessarily fancy--there were hamburgers and salad and cans of baked beans, and his macaroni and cheese involved a brick of Velveeta--but the kitchen was where he went to relax, to unwind from a day of seeing patients. He was a good cook. My mother is also a good cook, a very good cook, but I think of her mostly as a baker. She made brownies and crisps and birthday cakes, and in our neighborhood she became something of a legend for the elaborate cookies and candies she made each Christmas. Food was how the three of us spent time together. Cooking and eating gave our days their rhythm and consistency, and the kitchen was where everything happened. As a baby, I played on the floor with pots and spoons while my mother cooked. The three of us sat down to dinner at the kitchen table nearly every night (except Thursdays, when my parents went out and left me with a Stouffer's Turkey Tetrazzini and Julia Beal, the elderly babysitter, who always arrived with a floral-patterned plastic bonnet tied under her chin), and we kept up the habit (minus Stouffer's and Mrs. Beal, after a certain point) until I went to college.

I started cooking with my parents when I was in high school. I was not what you would call a difficult teen: Friday night might find me baking a cake or holed up in my bedroom with my notebook of poems. If I felt like doing something really exciting, I might invite some friends over and make a rhubarb cobbler. When I was seventeen, Food Network came into existence, and then I spent hour after hour watching cooking shows, which fueled even more baking and a poem about immersing myself in a vat of Marshmallow Fluff.

Brandon's teenage years were a little more interesting--he regularly handed in his homework late--but he too watched a lot of cooking shows. This was back in the golden age when you could actually learn something from Food Network--when David Rosengarten's brilliant Taste was still on the air and Emeril Lagasse's show was taped on a modest set without a studio audience, live musicians, or abuse of the word bam. Brandon learned about extra virgin olive oil on Molto Mario and balsamic vinegar on Essence of Emeril and begged his parents to add them to the grocery list. He once watched a show about soups during which the host reeled off a number of tricks for adding flavor and body: add a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind or a bouquet garni, for example, or drop in a potato, toss in some dried mushrooms, or simmer a teabag in the stock. Armed with this information, he decided to combine all of the tricks in a single soup, surely the greatest soup the world would ever know. The result, he reports, was very flavorful, like run-off from a large-scale mining operation.

Growing up, Brandon had four favorite pizza places: Posa Posa, Martio's, and Michaelangelo's, all in Nanuet, New York; and Kinchley's, in Ramsey, New Jersey. Of course, every kid on earth loves pizza, and a lot of them probably have four favorite pizza joints. But I know of few eight-year-olds who want to interview the pizzaiolo. Brandon took dance classes as a kid, and the ballet studio was conveniently located a few doors down from Michaelangelo's. After class, he would pummel the owner with questions. What's in the dough? What do you put in the sauce? Why do you grate the mozzarella for the  cheese  pizza, instead of slicing it? In exchange for answers and free slices, he agreed to put coupons under the windshield wipers of cars in the parking lot out front.

But if it were all really that straightforward, if Brandon and I had both homed in on food from the get-go, and if he had known that he would be a chef and I had known that I would someday own a restaurant with my chef husband, this would be a boring story, and I would not be telling it.

Excerpt reproduced with kind permission of Simon & Schuster.

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