Gourmet editor and former Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl just got back from the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire where she was working on a non-food-related novel. Though Observer eat, drink, pray reporter Doree Shafrir notes Reichl's at-rest aesthetic is "vaguely goth," she doesn't ask how the food was up there. A shame really, because this is how author and former Colony resident Andrea Cohen described it in MacDowell's pamphlet on what to expect from the experience.

Breakfast Oh, injustice that my favorite foods — berry flapjacks a-sea in maple syrup; nutty oat granola; butter-soaked French toast — are served at an hour when the muse has suggested she may visit. That she generally stands me up, alas, is not permission to abandon my post. Which is to say I don't get out much to breakfast at MacDowell. One exception: After waking at 2 a.m. and writing a few, good, solid hours, I ambled in a fog (both literal and metaphorical) up the dirt road for the morning meal. What bliss for a poet, not long past sunrise, to feel she's sung for her muffins and eggs. And been reminded that breakfast turns out to be like so many crucial rituals in life: It's the idea of the thing, not mere reality, that drives the oxen home.

Okay! But how did it feel upon leaving?

The worst thing is receiving a menu in the lunch basket just before leaving MacDowell. Is that how the dying girl feels, catching the scent of a cherry pie baking, knowing she'll be gone before the crust has cooled?

Yes, but would you go so far to say the flapjacks are scrumptulescent?

The Book of Ruth: Gourmet Editor Reichl Ferments Mysterious Novel At MacDowell Colony [NYO]