Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing

by Anya Von Bremzen


$15.36 $16.00 Save 4% Current price is $15.36, Original price is $16. You Save 4%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, August 28


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307886828
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 09/16/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 306,865
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

ANYA VON BREMZEN is one of the most accomplished food writers of her generation: the winner of three James Beard awards; a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine; and the author of five acclaimed cookbooks, among them The New Spanish Table, The Greatest Dishes: Around the World in 80 Recipes, and Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook (coauthored by John Welchman). She also contributes regularly to Food & Wine and Saveur and has written for The New Yorker, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between New York City and Istanbul.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Anya Von Bremzen.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Poisoned Madeleines 1

Part I Feasts, Famines, Fables

1 1910s: The Last Days of the Czars 9

2 1920s: Lenins Cake 33

Part II Larisa

3 1930s: Thank You, Comrade Stalin, for Our Happy Childhood 61

4 1940s: Of Bullets and Bread 87

5 1950s: Tasty and Healthy 117

Part III Anya

6 1960s: Corn, Communism, Caviar 147

7 1970s: Mayonnaise of My Homeland 175

Part IV Returns

8 1980s: Moscow Through the Shot Glass 209

9 1990s: Broken Banquets 241

10 Twenty-first Century: Putin on the Ritz 271

Part V Mastering the Art of Soviet Recipes 299

Author's Note 329

Acknowledgments 331

Selected Sources 333

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Author: Anya Von Bremzen Publisher: Crown Publishing Published: 9-17-2013 Pages: 354 ISBN: 0307886816 E-Book ASIN: B00COALX7M Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, History, Russia I have a love of food, sometimes good sometimes bad. 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. 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.
ARS1953 More than 1 year ago
Being half Russian I too am fascinated by Russian and Soviet history. 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. 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. It wasn't always the grim horrifying place that history  portrays it as. Through the authors young eyes you can see the thrill of being a young pioneer/ burgeoning entrepreneur exploiting the generosity of foriegn diplomats. 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
lrshorses More than 1 year ago
Excellent portrayal of everyday life for the average citizen in the Soviet Union. 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., but didn't really understand how those things affected the dynamic of everyday life. An interesting revelation from this book was Stalin's engineering of Soviet cuisine. I was fascinated and disturbed to know that most of the Russian food I eat today (I live in Russia) was chosen by Stalin and/or his food commissar for a particular reason. For instance, the reason everyone in Russia (including me) drinks champagne on New Year's is Stalin's decision to promote Soviet champagne production in order to convey how "good" socialist life could be for the average citizen. Highly recommend, excellent read. PS The appendix has recipes so that you can taste the food you are reading about!