Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

A Memoir of Love and Longing

eBook - 2013
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A James Beard Award-winning writer captures life under the Red socialist banner in this wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and three generations

Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, naively joyous, and melancholy--and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return.
Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past. To bring that past to life, Anya and her mother decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience. Through these meals, and through the tales of three generations of her family, Anya tells the intimate yet epic story of life in the USSR. Wildly inventive and slyly witty, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses.

Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780307886835
0307886832
Characteristics: 1 online resource.

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JBarringer
Jan 02, 2016

This is an excellent book, with some interesting recipes (some I actually might try soon) and a fascinating perspective on Russian/Soviet culture over the past century.

bibliotechnocrat Dec 31, 2014

This is only sort of a memoir. And it's only sort of about food. Bremzen is a food critic living in New York, but she grew up in Brezhnev's Russia and as an adult, decides to try make sense of her heritage. She and her mother cook their way through the Russian decades of the 20th century starting with a Tsarist feast (wow) so that food becomes a lens through which the culture - and the economic/social/political lurches of the Soviet system - are explored. The author's family history is investigated at the same time giving a personal context to the frequently violent upheavals that took place. The last part of the book covers her return to Russia to film a television show after the collapse of Communism. For me, the results are a bit uneven, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

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Markus_10
Mar 09, 2014

A thoroughly enjoyable read. Von Bremzen very cleverly weaves together broader Soviet history with her family's personal history, as well as a few recipes representing different historical periods. She has an excellent sense of the ironic and the absurd. Her recounting of her grandmother's and mother's experiences growing up in the USSR is somehow more fascinating than her own, perhaps because they take place principally in that country rather than in the United States.

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