Picks and Pans Review: A Comfort Read, with Recipes

updated 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Molly Wizenberg |

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Proust's madeleine, Virginia Woolf's boeuf en daube, the jelly beans on the Hogwarts train: Food has always enriched great books, both as symbol and as a kind of sensory boost to reading pleasure. (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe still makes me crave Turkish delight, and I don't even like Turkish delight.) Wizenberg, creator of the food blog Orangette, exploits that chemistry beautifully in her first book, a mouth-watering memoir about not all that much. Tracing her love of cooking to her Oklahoma childhood, she details the honing of her passion in Paris, her marriage to a fellow foodie (a pickle fanatic, of all things) and, movingly, her father's death. It's the blogger in her, perhaps, that makes her end chapters too tidily, but the inventive recipes throughout (sliced spring salad with avocado and feta; Hoosier pie) redeem all flaws. It's too bad Proust never met Molly Wizenberg. A nice madeleine recipe would have pushed that masterpiece of his right over the top.

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