Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen
A Memoir of Food and Longing

80%

5 Critic Reviews

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.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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.

 

About Anya von Bremzen

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Like most of the culinary world, food and travel writer Anya von Bremzen has Spain on the brain. But unlike those who have recently discovered Spain's sophisticated flavors and innovative charms, Anya has spent the last 10 years writing about Spanish cuisine and culture. A contributing editor at Travel + Leisure, she has pioneered Spanish cuisine in publications like Food & Wine, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler and the LA Times.In her latest tour de force, The New Spanish Table, Anya reveals the Spain she knows and loves, peppering delicious recipes with historical tidbits, cooking hints and true Spanish hospitality. In addition to The New Spanish Table, Anya is the author of four ethnic cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, Terrific Pacific Cookbook, The Greatest Dishes!: Around the World in 80 Recipes, and Fiesta! A Celebration of Latin Hospitality, which won Anya her second Beard award.When she's not in Spain or traveling to some exotic locale to try a new restaurant, Anya lives in New York City.
 
Published September 17, 2013 by Crown. 354 pages
Genres: Cooking, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jul 22 2013

With anecdotes, history and recipes, the author delivers a lively, precisely detailed cultural chronicle.

Read Full Review of Mastering the Art of Soviet C... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Sara Wheeler on Sep 13 2013

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.

Read Full Review of Mastering the Art of Soviet C... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Mina Holland on Sep 14 2013

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.

Read Full Review of Mastering the Art of Soviet C... | See more reviews from Guardian

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Ellah Allfrey on Sep 19 2013

While the later chapters may lack some of the intense magic of the childhood described in the book's early pages, one is compelled to read to the end, if only for that definitive recipe for "Russian" salad.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Ellah Allfrey on Sep 19 2013

...this delicious book is not just about the recipes. In Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, Bremzen follows in the footsteps of Nigel Slater's Toast and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: memoirs about life, love and food that linger long after the last page is turned.

Read Full Review of Mastering the Art of Soviet C... | See more reviews from NPR

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Alp Koksoy 5 Sep 2013

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