Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

3.96 (3,287 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Born in a surreal Moscow communal apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen, Anya von Bremzen grew up singing odes to Lenin, black-marketeering Juicy Fruit gum at school, and longing for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy and, finally, intolerable. In 1974, when Anya was ten, she and her mother fled to the USA, with no winter coats and no right of return. These days, Anya is the doyenne of high-end food writing. And yet, the flavour of Soviet kolbasa, like Proust's madeleine, transports her back to that vanished Atlantis known as the USSR .

In this sweeping, tragicomic memoir, Anya recreates seven decades of the Soviet experience through cooking and food, and reconstructs a moving family history spanning three generations. Her narrative is embedded in a larger historical epic: Lenin's bloody grain requisitioning, World War II starvation, Stalin's table manners, Khrushchev's kitchen debates, Gorbachev's disastrous anti-alcohol policies and the ultimate collapse of the USSR. And all of this is bound together by Anya's sardonic wit, passionate nostalgia and piercing observations. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a book that stirs the soul as well as the senses.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 127 x 198 x 28mm | 304g
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations (black and white)
  • 0552777471
  • 9780552777476
  • 107,153

Review Text

"This poignant memoir is an education in the richness of eastern European cuisine, and the story of Soviet communism, through the lens of family experience."
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Review quote

Through a kaleidoscopic mix of family life, politics, history, and jokes, von Bremzen evokes in her book a whole Soviet-era world of deprivation and delight. * Tablet * von Bremzen has conjured up the Proustian aromas of her Soviet life for her enjoyable 'foodoir'... perceptive and funny on the subtleties of life under Soviet rule and in exile. -- Charlotte Hobson * Spectator * a monumental but deeply human book that reads like a great Russian novel, filled with dark humor and nostalgia. It opens up an entire universe, teaching us about the many deep meanings of food: cultural, political, social, historical, personal. It is also an utterly magical journey into a rich, mysterious land of totalitarian tyranny, and a portrait of a courageous, passionate people. * Ferran Adria * I don't think there's ever been a book quite like this; I couldn't put it down. Warm, smart and completely engaging... this is a book you won't forget -- Ruth Reichl, author of Tender at the Bone One-of-a-kind ... Breathtaking feats of raconteurial skill... Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is not only a magic tablecloth, it's a magic carpet that revisits the roads and lanes of the former Soyuz, surveying the tales of hardship and hardwon joys of von Bremzen's relatives and the Russian people... -- Liesl Schillinger * The Daily Beast * The culinary memoir has lately evolved into a genre of its own... But Anya von Bremzen is a better writer than most of the genre's practitioners, as this delectable book, which tells the story of postrevolutionary Russia through the prism of one family's meals, amply demonstrates... von Bremzen moves artfully between historical longshots...and intimate details. The descriptions of meals are delightful... * New York Times * You will read few better books about food, family, exile or the Soviet tragedy-and none, I'll bet, which combines all those themes this magically. Funny, angry, ingenious and moving. * AD Miller, author of 'Snowdrops' * Rollicking and heartrending * Time * Absorbing... a social history of the Soviet Union cast through the prism of food * Jewish Chronicle * wry, provocative, genre-busting... * Wall Street Journal * This poignant memoir is an education in the richness of eastern European cuisine, and the story of Soviet communism, through the lens of family experience. * Observer * By turns funny, tragic and nostalgic, this is a wonderful, fascinating volume, which puts a human face on the grim pages of the history books * The Lady * Vastly entertaining... A real treat. * Woman & Home * Heartbreakingly poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. This is an important book, a must read! * Heston Blumenthal * Moving and darkly comic -- Niki Segnit * The Sunday Times *
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About Anya Von Bremzen

As a child in the Soviet Union, Anya von Bremzen was the granddaughter of the former head of Naval intelligence, and thus a bona fide member of the nomenklatura. She was also the daughter of a disaffected dissident, a child actress and a piano prodigy. Then, because of political repression, she and her mother fled to America and Anya reinvented herself as one of the most accomplished food writers of her generation: the author of five acclaimed cookbooks, the recipient of three James Beard awards, and a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine. She divides her time between New York City and Istanbul.
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Rating details

3,287 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 33% (1,078)
4 41% (1,332)
3 19% (626)
2 5% (171)
1 2% (80)
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