Affable Molly Wizenberg could be your sister, your daughter or your best friend. She’s all that and more in her popular food blog, Orangette and in A Homemade Life, her best-selling memoir. Wizenberg (with her husband, Brandon Pettit) is also co-owner of Delancey, a neighborhood pizza joint, and Essex, an artisan cocktail bar. They, along with toddler daughter June, are part of a thriving DIY Seattle food scene. Wizenberg’s new memoir, Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, debuts this month.
Your first book, A Homemade Life, is in many ways a coming-of-age story.You write about losing your father, struggling to find your career path and meeting your husband. How did it feel to write so personally?
It felt oddly natural. Part of what feeds my impulse to write about difficult things in my life is the desire to create a place outside of myself where I can store those memories; the kind of memories you can’t think about all the time. I have so many poignant memories of my dad’s death. After he died, I wanted to replay those moments to make sense of what had happened. Writing helped me to find a safe place outside of my head, so they were always there if I wanted to revisit them.
After your daughter was born, you wrote very honestly on your blog about your struggles with postpartum depression. How did you find help? What advice do you have for other moms?
It was hard to come out with it. The reason I wrote it was my postpartum depression wasn’t obvious. I wasn’t depressed at first, but I struggled with chronic insomnia, which eventually made me truly depressed. As I went through the steps with my doctor to figure out what could help, I tried to reach out and find someone who had been through postpartum depression and could tell me it would be OK. I thought, If my community is as wonderfully big as I think it is and I can’t find anyone to talk to, what must this be like for other people? I wrote that blog post so that I could be that person for someone else.
You are equally honest in your new book,which describes Brandon’s dream of opening a restaurant.You write about the letdown you felt after A Homemade Life was published, and of your ambivalence about the restaurant and the pressure you felt to be a cook.Was it hard to dispense with the mythology that you are living a perfect life?
Writing this book was much harder than writing the first one. Losing a parent and falling in love are very relatable. I was nervous that making public my ambivalence about something so successful would come across as unsympathetic. But writing the book helped me come to a sense of resolution and form a narrative about the restaurant. I’ve been lucky, and I am not ungrateful. The best things in life are the hardest.
Sounds a lot like parenting.
I’m beginning to see glimpses of that.
What will you do if June becomes a picky eater?
I don’t want food to become a battleground. June will never starve to death. My part of the deal is to always put good, tasty food in front of her. If she’s hungry, she’ll eat it. June is already into stirring pots when we are cooking; I hope food will be a way that we naturally spend time together.
What is June’s current favorite food?
The chicken soup at La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard. She loves all things in soup form.
You and Brandon have since opened Essex and write the “Craft Cocktails” column for Food52. How do you find time to incorporate cocktails into your busy lives?
I don’t often make them for myself. I’m an “open a bottle of wine” kind of person. On nights when Brandon is at Delancey, I look forward to drinking a glass of wine and cooking after June goes to bed. Brandon and I cook together twice a week, and we always make a cocktail, usually something easy with three ingredients in equal parts.
What’s your favorite easy cocktail and favorite easy meal after juggling a busy day of work and child care?
A Negroni (gin, vermouth and Campari) — sometimes half-size, because I’m a lightweight. I am a big believer in scrambled eggs for dinner, with whatever vegetables are around. And I’m trying to get into the habit of roasting a bunch of vegetables and keeping them in the fridge.