Author(s): Anya Von Bremzen
Born in a surreal Moscow communal apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen, Anya von Bremzen grew up singing odes to Lenin, black-marketeering Juicy Fruit gum at school, and longing for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy and, finally, intolerable. In 1974, when Anya was ten, she and her mother fled to the USA, with no winter coats and no right of return. These days, Anya is the doyenne of high-end food writing. And yet, the flavour of Soviet kolbasa, like Proust's madeleine, transports her back to that vanished Atlantis known as the USSR. In this sweeping, tragicomic memoir, Anya recreates seven decades of the Soviet experience through cooking and food, and reconstructs a moving family history spanning three generations. Her narrative is embedded in a larger historical epic: Lenin's bloody grain requisitioning, World War II starvation, Stalin's table manners, Khrushchev's kitchen debates, Gorbachev's disastrous anti-alcohol policies and the ultimate collapse of the USSR. And all of this is bound together by Anya's sardonic wit, passionate nostalgia and piercing observations. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a book that stirs the soul as well as the senses.
A mother and daughter relive their memories of 20th-Century Russian history through its food...
Anya von Bremzen has been many things: as a child in the Soviet Union, she was the granddaughter of the former head of Naval intelligence, and thus a bona fide member of the nomenklatura; she was also the daughter of a disaffected dissident; a child actress; a piano prodigy.Then, because of a medical condition and political repressions in Brezhnev-era Russia, she and her mother became emigres, to America. Eventually, when an injury ended her career as a concert pianist, she reinvented herself as an accomplished food writer, winning three James Beard awards for her international cookbooks and magazine work on behalf of Travel & Leisure, where she's been a contributing editor for over a decade, and for a number of other magazines. Now, she's the doyenne of high-end food travel writing, a master at putting a fine gloss on high cuisine wherever she finds it.