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Von Bremzen and her mother Larisa chronicle their love-hate relationship with the Soviet Union and ultimate escape when Anya was ten years old.


Rich in real family histories, idiosyncrasies, and stories, Von Bremzen uses her sometimes fraught family life as a lens to examine the Soviet Union more closely than she had as a child. The book is organized by decade, beginning with the Russian Revolution in the s and the memories of Anya's grandparents. Each chapter is liberally larded with much-needed historical context on the political and social movements and upheavals at the time, illustrated by the lives of von Bremzen's immediate family, relatives, and friends.

With each decade, not only does von Bremzen give the social and historical background to the food discussed, she also chronicles the dinner parties she and her mother recreated for each decade, using historically accurate recipes.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

The last chapter ends in the twenty-first century with Putin's rise to power and the burgeoning obsession in petro-fueled Russia with all things expensive. The book itself ends with a single recipe illustrating each chapter. My Ex Libris edition also comes with a reader's guide featuring a zakushki party menu with recipes at the back. I found this book incredibly compelling, but here and there the historian in me missed some more in-depth narrative. But while she discusses the consumer end of things and the people who directed the food itself, she does not even mention the manufacturing process nor the workers who produced it.

Von Bremzen does discuss briefly the plight of rural agricultural peasants throughout the decades, but her personal history as a city-bred Muscovite doesn't lend itself well to interpreting that agricultural history. Her tantalizing mentions of the Kazakh apple industry, Ukranian pork and wheat industry, and the rich culinary histories of Central Asian nations leave me wanting more information and context.

Alas, there is only so much you can fit into a memoir before it comes a history book. This memoir was not only a fascinating read, I learned a lot about the fraught, deprived, and often violent history of the Soviet Union as well as more about the part-industrialized, part-homemade foods that former Soviets speak of with such fondness.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in Soviet history or Russian culture. The problem is, although he was raised to love food and wine he doesn't really know how to cook. So he embarks upon an often hilarious and always touching culinary journey that will ultimately allow him to bring his mother's friends and loved ones to the table one last time.

Victor Sebestyen's intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. In Russia, to this day, Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere he continues to fascinate as a man who made history and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world. In this eye-opening study, Sidney W.

Mintz shows how Europeans and Americans transformed sugar from a rare foreign luxury to a commonplace necessity of modern life and how it changed the history of capitalism and industry. He discusses the production and consumption of sugar and reveals how closely interwoven sugar's origins are as a "slave" crop grown in Europe's tropical colonies, with its use first as an extravagant luxury for the aristocracy, then as a staple of the diet of the new industrial proletariat.

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

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 , in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where 18 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 10, 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.

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. And, ultimately, the collapse of the USSR. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses. Any additional comments? Very good, very sad book. Kathleen Gati has a warm voice and reads smoothly, but makes no attempt at getting Russian pronunciations right.

People, places and Russian words range from slightly off to laughably wrong. Why do audiobook producers believe that one East European accent is the same as another? I'd have enjoyed it more with a Russian-speaking reader. Very high. One of the best autobiographhies, surely.

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The choice of food as a look into Soviet life was both brilliant and tragic, and Anya's self-realization, even as a young child, is portrayed with all its pain and glory. What was one of the most memorable moments of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking? I was struck by the idea that paraphrasing there was no meaning behind the food, you could just get what you wanted when you wanted it, and how she longed for the intimate meaning of the foods she enjoyed in the USSR, even though it would mean waiting hours in line for it if you could get it at all.

All of it! She was an incredible narrator choice; I will definitely check out more of her performances! Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry? If you're interested in Soviet history, food, or simply the coming of age bio, this book will appeal to you. Enchanting and captivating, I will revisit this often. The vocal performance heightens the story beautifully. I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't quite what I had expected.

The rest is devoted to the author's experience of Russian political history and how that influenced her view on the world around her and in particular, on food. The narrator, Kathleen Gati, was simply marvelous. She could not have done a better job.

A Memoir of Food and Longing

I really enjoyed her accent, and I felt that her soothing voice brought the material to life. This is a book I probably would not have read in print version, and if I had, I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much. The author and her family are Russian Jewish immigrants to America and the story of their life and subsequent immigration is captured so beautifully that you feel yourself in the middle of Russia with them. While there are some frightening parts to the book, I don't recall anything particularly gory.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing | sperozwhipbebil.cf

The only objection that I have is that there is unnecessary foul language. It is few and far between, but it takes a lot away from the book, which is why I took away a couple of Overall stars.

In general, if you are interested in Russian political history or Russian cooking, this is a good book for you. Don't overlook the PDF that comes with it that contains various Russian recipes that were mentioned in the book. If you're really interested in the recipes, the PDF is worth the cost of the credit to purchase the audiobook. Would you listen to Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking again? Weird question. It's a fantastic book though.

Mastering the art of soviet cooking : a memoir of food and longing

Engrossing memoir of a Soviet childhood told in an interesting way. Hey, how about you just let me write a review instead of asking dumb questions? She didn't over act and she did all the accents beautifully. I only noticed her in a positive way. Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting? Hey, Audible, these questions are dumb. A lawyer would object to them as leading, and they'd never hold up. I am the walrus, coo coo ka-choo. This book brimmed with personal detail and on-the-body story telling but lost its way several times, forcing the reader into numerous tangents on Soviet history that would interest only enthusiasts of that era.

It could have been great!

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A wonderful blend of memoir and history.