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Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen - review

People saved their mayonnaise jars so they could give their doctors urine samples. We get stories of kitchens shared by eighteen families and the chaos that sharing caused. Russian is a language without a word for privacy, and though Russians consume unbelievable amounts of alcohol, they look down on drinking alone: it is an antisocial sign of heartlessness, perhaps even of Jewishness! It is almost as bad as not drinking at all.

Nothing could have made him more unpopular. People envied MIG pilots because they were given de-icer, whose principal ingredient was alcohol, which they drank, to the peril of their passengers and themselves. We were a land in which booze had replaced Holy Water, and the rites of drinking were sacramental and strict. Russians also love to indulge in toska , a word that has no exact English equivalent but includes longing, missing, nostalgia, and a sensual sadness.

Five Bullet Review of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking a Memoir of Food & Longing

War and communism caused a famine that took the lives of five million, and an even larger famine was later deliberately engineered by Stalin to break the back of the peasantry Access options available:. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

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No institutional affiliation. 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. She divides her time between New York City and Istanbul. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Average Review. Write a Review. To be honest Russian food is not one I have explored much in my lifetime and after reading and trying some of the recipes in Mastering The Art of Russian Cooking I wish I had tried it much earlier.

Even though I was expecting more of a cookbook with short stories to go with them I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading her family history and their trials and tribulations they had to make it through. The inner struggle within the family bring her story a bit more closer to my heart because every family has its squabbles on how things should be done by the individuals and sometimes compromise is hard to come by.

Yet like most of us the love between family members carry the day. The recipes may be few but they do provide a wide variety into Russian cuisine and I am grateful for Anya Von Bremzen for her wonderful autobiography and the different recipes she used to represent the decades of her family history. My family especially enjoyed the Blini and the Palov, but did not embrace the Salat Olivier. The problem may be that no one in my family is overly fond of pickles, so I may try this recipe again with less pickles, dill and cucumbers.


  • A Memoir of Food and Longing.
  • Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking Archives - The Crown Publishing Group.
  • A Taste of the Past.
  • A Memoir of Food and Longing.
  • Excerpt from Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking | Penguin Random House Canada.
  • The sauce is absolutely delicious. This is a very good book that showcases the history of one woman's family and is extremely well written so that everyone can understand and enjoy it without feeling they are sitting in history class discussing a dry textbook. Check it out for yourself. A little bit cookbook, a lot memoir, the author gives a detailed and well researched look into her family history, and adds her own personal experiences to the mix.

    Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: Anya von Bremzen on Cake and Stalin

    The book is organized by decades of the 20th century, mixing history with family history. I really enjoyed the book and reading the recipes she includes, tho I don't know if I will try any of them! BeautifulWaters More than 1 year ago I will preface this by saying I am fascinated by all things Russia, that's what led me to pick up this book. I wasn't so much interested in the recipes and didn't try them. The memoir itself however gave me the taste of Russia that I was looking for. The author shares with us her view of her homeland. Later in life the author returns to her motherland and completes the story for us.

    This is a beautiful, real life story that is very well told. Thank you Anya for sharing your story with us. Anonymous More than 1 year ago. Provides an excellent counterpoint to the political maneuverings that are the only thing most foreigners know about. I had heard of rationing, food lines,communal apartments, etc.