By Anya von Bremzen
A James Beard Award-winning author captures existence lower than the crimson socialist banner during this wildly artistic, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and 3 generations
With startling good looks and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate but epic tale of lifestyles in that vanished empire referred to as the USSR--a position the place each suitable for eating morsel was once jam-packed with emotional and political meaning.
Born in 1963, in an period of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow residence the place eighteen households shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum in class, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like so much Soviet voters, longed for a flavor of the legendary West. It was once a existence through turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy--and finally insupportable to her anti-Soviet mom, Larisa. while Anya used to be ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia without iciness coats and no correct of return.
Now Anya occupies parallel nutrition universes: one the place she writes approximately four-star eating places, the opposite the place a style of humble kolbasa transports her again to her scarlet-blazed socialist previous. To carry that previous to lifestyles, in its complete taste, either sour and candy, Anya and Larisa, embark on a trip not like the other: they choose to consume and prepare dinner their means via each decade of the Soviet experience--turning Larisa's kitchen right into a "time desktop and an incubator of memories." jointly, mom and daughter re-create food either modest and magnificent, that includes a decadent fish pie from the pages of Chekhov, chanakhi (Stalin's favourite Georgian stew), blini, and more.
Through those food, Anya tells the gripping tale of 3 Soviet generations--
masterfully shooting the unusual mixture of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that outlined Soviet lifestyles. We meet her grandfather Naum, a glamorous intelligence leader below Stalin, and her grandmother Liza, who made a deadly odyssey to icy, blockaded Leningrad to discover Naum in the course of international battle II. We meet Anya's hard-drinking, sarcastic father, Sergei, who cruelly abandons his relations almost immediately after Anya is born; and we're captivated by way of Larisa, the romantic dreamer who grew up dreading the black public loudspeakers trumpeting the glories of the Five-Year Plan. Their tales spread opposed to the sizeable landscape of Soviet background: Lenin's bloody grain requisitioning, international struggle II starvation and survival, Stalin's desk manners, Khrushchev's kitchen debates, Gorbachev's disastrous anti-alcohol rules. And, finally, the cave in of the USSR. And it all is certain jointly by way of Anya's passionate nostalgia, sly humor, and piercing observations.
Mastering the paintings of Soviet Cooking is that infrequent publication that stirs our souls and our senses.
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Extra resources for Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
In its own way, the house was as horsey as Jane’s, but at a higher, wealthier level: wonderful paintings of horses, including a few by George Stubbs himself, bronzes of horses from every era, shelf after shelf of gleaming polo trophies, some of them works of art in themselves. There was a pianist at the big white Steinway grand playing tunes from Cole Porter, Noel Coward, and Rogers and Hart, while the butler circulated through the room reﬁlling people’s glasses. It was all like stepping back into the 1920s.
That’s what I said to him. ” She paused. ” “Up to a point. ” I knew better than to put the blame on Black Jack. You can’t criticize the horse somebody has lent you—it just isn’t done. Jane chuckled. “Nobody’s done that in years,” she said. ” “Aye, that he did,” Thady said contentedly. “I told him that’s what happens when you get a real daredevil in the hunt ﬁeld. ” He sipped his tea, into which Jane had poured a generous shot of Irish whiskey. ” The same thought had occurred to me, which perhaps explains why I never repeated the experience.
I gave a sigh of relief as we turned off the main road into a narrower, 38 Horse People but quieter, dirt one, then, after what seemed like a long time, onto the gravel of a driveway that took us around the side of a magniﬁcent old brick mansion to a vast expanse of lawn, on which I saw two or three dozen more horses and riders, mixed in with a lot of well-dressed people on foot—for foxhunting is as much a social occasion as a sport, in which seeing who is there and being seen are perhaps more important to most people than killing a fox.
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen