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|Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing
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Author: Anya Von Bremzen
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
With startling beauty and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate yet epic story of life in that vanished empire known as the USSR—a place where every edible morsel was packed with emotional and political meaning.
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, drab, naively joyous, 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, in its full flavor, both bitter and sweet, Anya and Larisa, embark on a journey unlike any other: they decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience—turning Larisa’s kitchen into a "time machine and an incubator of memories.” Together, mother and daughter re-create meals both modest and sumptuous, featuring a decadent fish pie from the pages of Chekhov, chanakhi (Stalin’s favorite Georgian stew), blini, and more.
Through these meals, Anya tells the gripping story of three Soviet generations—
masterfully capturing the strange mix of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that defined Soviet life. We meet her grandfather Naum, a glamorous intelligence chief under Stalin, and her grandmother Liza, who made a perilous odyssey to icy, blockaded Leningrad to find Naum during World War II. We meet Anya’s hard-drinking, sarcastic father, Sergei, who cruelly abandons his family shortly after Anya is born; and we are captivated by Larisa, the romantic dreamer who grew up dreading the black public loudspeakers trumpeting the glories of the Five-Year Plan. Their stories unfold against the vast panorama of Soviet history: Lenin’s bloody grain requisitioning, World War II hunger and survival, Stalin’s table manners, Khrushchev’s kitchen debates, Gorbachev’s disastrous anti-alcohol policies. And, ultimately, the collapse of the USSR. And all of it is bound together by Anya’s passionate nostalgia, sly humor, and piercing observations.
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses.
Q&A with Anya Von Bremzen
Q. One of your reasons for writing this book was your feeling of leading a double life as a food writer. Can you explain?
A. When I started my career in the early 90s, after emigrating in the 70’s, the Soviet drama of putting food on the table was still fresh. Whenever I ate at a fancy restaurant for my work, I felt pangs of guilt about all my family struggling back in Moscow. Over time Russia became a wealthy country, but I continued to be haunted by a sense that behind everything I ate professionally lay another reality: a shadow of our collective Soviet trauma. Something deeper, more existential, and related to food. This haunting, complicated past, bottled inside of me, finally had to come out.
Q. What surprised you most, writing the book?
A. What I've come to call the “poisoned madeleine” factor. We lived in a state where every edible morsel was politicized and ideologized. And most of our food was produced by the state my mother had reviled and fled. And yet we experience a powerful bittersweet nostalgia for those “poisoned” flavors. The complexity and contradiction of this longing is what I explore in the book. Over pages eating becomes almost a metaphor for ingesting ideology—and for resisting it.
Q. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking tells your story, but also the story of three generations of your family. How did you research their experiences?
A. My mother has an almost uncanny recall of her emotional life, starting from her earliest childhood—back when she was an alienated sensitive kid in the totalitarian frenzies under Stalin. Her feeling of being a “dissident-born,” always at odds with Soviet society, has been an incredibly powerful trope for this book. My dad, on the other hand, remembers perfectly all the small physical details: what vodka cost in 1959, for example. And my grandparents were great raconteurs. Even after they were long gone their stories lived on.
Q. You describe, to sumptuous effect, Russian literature’s obsession with food. Who are your favorite Russian authors?
A. I love most the satirical strain in Russian literature. As much as I venerate Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, it’s Nikolai Gogol, that gluttonous hypochondriac, who’s my guy. Gogol is amazing—delicious!—on food. His Dead Souls essentially chronicles one grifter’s journey from dinner to dinner through the vast Russian countryside.
Q. You’ve spent time in the new Moscow over the last few years. How would you describe contemporary Russian food culture?
A. The last chapter of the book is ironically titled “Putin’ on the Ritz.” That pretty much sums it up. Foie gras and burrata, sushi flown in from Tokyo—it's all there for comrades with serious rubles. And yet, at the same time, there’s this astonishing wave of Soviet nostalgia! Even oligarchs are pining for the mayonnaise-laden salads and kotleti (Russian burgers) of our shared, vanished socialist childhoods.
Q. How did the work of cooking change over time for Russian women?
A. That’s an arc I lay out in the book. The pioneering Bolsheviks of the 1920s wanted to liberate women from domestic chores—and so both my grandmothers were lousy cooks! But the Bolshevik feminist project failed, and by the next decade, under Stalin, Soviet women got stuck where they remained—carrying the infamous “double-burden” of a job and housework. Still. In a society with so much cultural control, some women of my mother's early 60’s generation found personal self-expression in cooking. Now with the avalanche of chichi prepared food at Russian supermarkets, cooking is strictly a matter of choice.
Q. What was the first dish you remember learning?
A. When I was a kid of five, Mom and I lived on one ruble a day—poverty even by Soviet standards. When we completely ran out money Mom would make fried eggs over stale black bread cubes. I watched her make it so many times I could do it blindfolded. And it's still one of my favorite dishes.
Q. What is your favorite dish to cook with your mother?
A. Each chapter of the book has us obsessing about something different—a new “project.” The sumptuous kulebiaka from the pages of our beloved Chekhov drove us crazy but turned out incredibly. And both Mom and I love the spicy exotic flavors from the ethnic rainbow of former Soviet ethnic republics. Chanakhi, a Georgian lamb stew with tons of herbs (Stalin's favorite dish incidentally) is something we cook a lot.
|Russian Grammar (Quickstudy Academic Outline)
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Author: Inc. BarCharts
Basics of the Russian language in our quick-access format.
|The Food & Cooking of Russia: Discover the rich and varied character of Russian cuising, in 60 authentic recipes and 300 glorious photographs (The Food and Cooking of)
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Author: Elena Makhonko
Brand: Brand: Anness
Discover the rich and varied character of Russian cuisine, in a unique volume offering over 60 authentic dishes that reflect an incredible range of cultural influences
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|Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook
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Author: Anya von Bremzen
Brand: Brand: Workman Publishing Company
From the robust foods of the Baltic states to the delicately perfumed pilafs of Azerbaijan, from borscht and beef stroganoff to the grains and yogurts of Georgia, Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman take Westerners on a spectacular tour of the many and varied cuisines of the fifteen former Soviet republics.
Anya von Bremzen, a native Muscovite, grew up on regional cooking and has traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union, visiting professional chefs, touring markets, and sampling and gathering dishes. Covering eleven time zones and hundreds of recipes, Please to the Table brings to light the astounding culinary diversity of this corner of the world-and the similarities between the cuisines, too.
Here are Byelorussion Mushroom Croquettes, Armenian Stuffed Mussels, and dozens of other zakuski-the "little bites" that are the heart and soul of Russian meals. Soups from Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup to Lithuanian Apple Soup with Apple Dumplings. Dozens of entrees including Uzbek Lamb Pilaf, Russian Salmon with Sorrel and Spinach, Azerbaijani Quail in Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce, Armenian Pumpkin Moussaka. And side dishes, salads, beverages, and desserts such as Russian Cranberry Mousse and an Almond and Pistachio Paklava. Plus vatrushki, pampushki, halushki, blinchiki, sirniki, and pirozhki. Winner of the 1990 James Beard Food and Beverage Book Award. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club's Homestyle Books and the Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service. 58,000 copies in print.
Priy.tnova Apetita-good appetite!
Is there more to Russian cookery than beets, cabbage, and sour cream? Please to the Table, a comprehensive guide that takes readers and cooks from the Baltics to Uzbekistan, should absolutely bury that question. Russia alone is bigger than the U.S. and Canada combined; its people claim more than 100 different nationalities and languages. Throw in the other 14 former Soviet republics, cook a feast, and you'll sample everything from Moldavian marinated peppers to cold yogurt and cucumber soup to Uzbek lamb stew to crawfish boiled in beer to open cheese tartlets, Russian tea, and, yes, beef stroganoff--nearly every major culinary style is represented here. Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman capture the soul of Mother Russia in 400 recipes joined together with a literate overview of each culinary piece in this magnificent jigsaw puzzle of a nation. The cook will be amply rewarded, and readers will travel far and wide through flavors and feasts only dimly imagined in the West.
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|The Russian Heritage Cookbook: A Culinary Heritage Preserved in 360 Authentic Recipes
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Author: Lynn Visson
Alongside the splendors of tsarist Russia-its art, architecture, and literature-sits its cuisine, a marvelous, little-known part of Russian heritage. Based on favorite family recipes, collected by the author from the private collections of the old Russian émigré community of New York City, The Complete Russian Cookbook represents the restoration of an entire culinary heritage, which previously existed only in memory.
Most Americans have experienced little of Russian cuisine: Beef Stroganoff, Pirozhki, Borscht, and a few others. The Complete Russian Cookbook brings together the best of these classic dishes, along with hundreds of recipes for the sumptuous meals that have delighted generations, each tested by both Russian and American cooks and adapted for the modern kitchen. More than 360 recipes are included, covering everything from hors d'oeuvres to main dishes to desserts and beverages. Potato Pirozhki with Mushroom Filling, Carp à la Russe, and Almond Cake with Apricot Wine Filling are just a few of the delicious dishes to be found here, accompanied by useful introductions that provide a history of Russian cuisine.
|Festive Ukrainian Cooking
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Author: Marta Pisetska Farley
More than a cookbook, Festive Ukrainian Cooking is also a definitive account of traditional Ukrainian culture as perpetuated in family rituals and lovingly celebrated with elegantly prepared food and drink.
|Culinaria Russia: Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
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Brand: Brand: H.F. Ullmann
Each individual volume is a true treasure trove of information: discover the wealth of specialities in the featured countries and their regions, learn about the traditions and distinctive peculiarities of the various cuisines--and be inspired to achieve your own sumptuous culinary highlights.
- Used Book in Good Condition
|Art of Lithuanian Cooking
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Author: Maria Gieysztor de Gorgey
"Art of Lithuanian Cooking is a culinary showcase of palate-pleasing regional delights." --The Midwest Book Review "Here is a collection of Lithuanian recipes that will be welcome on any table." --The International Cookbook Revue This favorite Hippocrene cookbook includes over 150 authentic Lithuanian recupes such as "Fresh Cucumber Soup," "Lithuanian Meat Pockets," "Hunter's Stew," "Potato Zeppelins," as well as delicacies like "Homemade Honey Liqueur," and "Easter Gypsy Cake." The author's introduction and easy step-by-step directions ensure that even novice cooks can create authentic, delicious Lithuanian recipes.
- ISBN13: 9780781808996
- Condition: New
- Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
|The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia
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Author: Darra Goldstein
According to Georgian legend, God took a supper break while creating the world. He became so involved with his meal that he inadvertently tripped over the high peaks of the Caucasus, spilling his food onto the land below. The land blessed by Heaven's table scraps was Georgia.
Nestled in the Caucasus mountain range between the Black and Caspian seas, the Republic of Georgia is as beautiful as it is bountiful. The unique geography of the land, which includes both alpine and subtropical zones, has created an enviable culinary tradition. In The Georgian Feast, Darra Goldstein explores the rich and robust culture of Georgia and offers a variety of tempting recipes.
The book opens with a fifty-page description of the culture and food of Georgia. Next are over one hundred recipes, often accompanied by notes on the history of the dish. Holiday menus, a glossary of Georgian culinary terms, and an annotated bibliography round out the volume.
|Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' "A Gift to Young Housewives"
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Author: Elena Molokhovets
"Joyce Toomre... has accomplished an enormous task, fully on a par with the original author's slave labor. Her extensive preface and her detailed and entertaining notes are marvelous." --Tatyana Tolstaya, New York Review of Books
" Classic Russian Cooking is a book that I highly recommend. Joyce Toomre has done a marvelous job of translating this valuable and fascinating source book. It's the Fanny Farmer and Isabella Beeton of Russia's 19th century." --Julia Child, Food Arts
"This is a delicious book, and Indiana University Press has served it up beautifully." --Russian Review
..". should become as much of a classic as the Russian original... dazzling and admirable expedition into Russia's kitchens and cuisine." --Slavic Review
"It gives a delightful and fascinating picture of the foods of pre-Communist Russia." --The Christian Science Monitor
First published in 1861, this "bible" of Russian homemakers offered not only a compendium of recipes, but also instructions about such matters as setting up a kitchen, managing servants, shopping, and proper winter storage. Joyce Toomre has superbly translated and annotated over one thousand of the recipes and has written a thorough and fascinating introduction which discusses the history of Russian cuisine and summarizes Molokhovets' advice on household management. A treasure trove for culinary historians, serious cooks and cookbook readers, and scholars of Russian history and culture.
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