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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,143 ratings  ·  555 reviews
There is an alternate cover edition for this ISBN13 here.

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
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Crown (first published 2013)
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Anna Yes, it is named differently. Here is the title in Russian: Тайны советской кухни. Книга о еде и надежде.
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,143 ratings  ·  555 reviews

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Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a cookbook, though it does have a couple recipes. Think "Julie and Julia" with Stalin and Brezhnev in place of Julia Child. Sort of. What Anya von Bremzen has written here is an insider's look at daily life in the Soviet Union as expressed in food.

I grew up believing that life in the Soviet Union must have been terrible, and this book mostly confirms that it was. von Bremzen traces how, as the Soviet Union left its imperial past and transformed itself into a (mythical) socialist work
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: PW 6/24/13
Ever since I read the starred review of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking in the 24 June issue of Publishers Weekly, I knew I had to get my hands on this book! I was lucky to come across it in NetGalley, which gave me a copy for review.

"Inevitably, a story about Soviet food is a chronicle of longing, of unrequited desire."

Anya Von Bremzen was born in the USSR and later emigrated to the United States with her mother. Her James Beard award winning cookbook, Please To The Table: The Russian Cook
Jan 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Food memoirs are usually among my favorite books. Not this one. I toiled and pushed, really pushed to get to 35%, trying to give it a chance. Anya failed miserably in her attempt to articulate her genuine experiences and feelings. Her writing was all over the place. I’d pick up a tidbit of where she was going with her story and did everything in my power as a reader to stay engaged with where she was going, but then she’d veer off in another direction and would fall away from the through-line. I ...more
This book should be taught in school history courses. It is an exceptional resource for Soviet history, it's well-written and well-researched. But most of all, it's accessible, nostalgic without being cloying or overly-sentimental, and it's touching. It happens to cover some of the subjects that interest me most: food, Russian/Soviet history, mother-daughter relationships. This book could've been written for me. I first took it out from the library, but I saw immediately I wanted to own it.

Rare is the book that hits so many different intellectual and emotional notes.... Rare is the book that can discuss the ideologies of food at all, never mind its semiotics and psychoemotional registers, too, all while critiquing not one but two economic-political systems. This book is masterly. My only reservation with it is that its attention to emotional detail makes it at times a heavy read. I find this point quite interesting because I own one of her cookbooks, and part of what I appreciate ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really felt this was three different books, one about her family, one about her and her food, and one about Russia's history. I really don't like how they ran together. I found some sections confusing. The history was dry and the food secondary to the story. I wish she had written one great book about her trip back to Moscow to do the TV show and incorporated stories from the past that related to the food. I felt that the chronological order really hampered the showcasing of the food. In the l ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I think many Mongolians have a sort of nostalgia for out communist, Soviet past. The apparent lack of a big cultural heritage, or rather, what constitutes "culture" in modern times - food, music, art - led to the adoption of many Soviet-era exports as our own. Reading this book feels both familiar (Olivier salat - Nisslel salat, Blinchik, Plov, Borshch) and yet, with the detailed look into one family's life from the nation's infancy to its death, it serves as a cure for any ost ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, russian, history
"כל הזיכרונות המאושרים הקשורים לאוכל דומים זה לזה; כל הזיכרונות האומללים הקשורים לאוכל אומללים בדרכם שלהם."

אניה פון ברמזן נולדה בברית המועצות ב- 1963. היא היגרה עם אימא שלה לארה"ב בשנת 1974 כשהיתה בת 10. לאחר שנים בהם היתה פסנתרנית, עקב גידול ביד נאלצה לחפש מחדש את יעודה. כשמצאה את יעודה באמצע שנות ה - 20, כתבה ספר מתכונים עב כרס שהפך לרב מכר היסטרי ומאז היא עוסקת בעיקר בקולינריה ברחבי העולם.

"סיפור על אוכל סובייטי הוא בהכרח כרוניקה של כמיהה, של תשוקה שלא באה על סיפוקה."

בממואר מרהיב, משעשע ורווי
Margaret Sankey
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is a stunner. Bremzen and her mother, who emigrated from Moscow in 1974, recreate a dinner for each decade from 1910 to 2000, weaving in the story of her family--Jewish-categorized Naval Intelligence officers on one side, Baltic aristocrats on the other, as they move in and out of privileged positions and survive Soviet history with vivid food experiences. From the frequently reprinted and edited Book of Healthy and Tasty Food (which disappeared discredited capitalist kepchup as well as ...more
This book combines the diverse cuisines of the USSR, and the story of Soviet communism, through the lens of the author's family experience. I can't recommend this book highly enough: you want to learn about totalitarianism, Russia's relationship with other soviet countries and food, then you need this book in your life.

The writing is superb so just dive in!
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinujúce, smutné i veselé, šokojúce i objasňujúce.... Náhľad autorky na Ródinu, teda vlasť nielen cez vzťah k jedlu a históriu jednej rodiny i celého národa počas 20. storočia.
Táto kniha má proste moc chytiť presne na tom správnom mieste. Aj keď veľa z veci poznáme z histórie či hodín dejepisu, je prekvapením čítať ich z pohľadu niekoho kto bol priamo pri tom... tie vysvetlenia za tým, ten reálny pohľad do kuchýň i obchodov, do kastrólov i špajzí a v neposlednom rade i sŕdc Sovietov... Rusov?
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God I loved this book. Maybe it's that long-hidden degree in Russian history... This book has about four great stories running through it - the history of the Soviet Union from the time of the Revolution to the present, the story of the author's family as they coped with the changes in Moscow during this long period, often oppressed, frequently hungry, the story of the author's own life growing up in Brezhnev's time and her eventual asylum-seeking with her mother to the US, and finally, it is th ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Túto knihu odporúčam každému, kto by sa chcel nad absurditami nášho post-sovietsko-satelitného bloku radšej zasmiať, než nasrať. Lebo podobnými aj OVEĽA absurdnejšími bizarnosťami sa táto kniha priam hemží. Možno práve podobnosť a zároveň nepodobnosť s našou históriou je tým, čo z tejto knihy, okrem neskutočne šťavnatého, vtipného jazyka, robí klenot. Zemiakový majonézový šalát proste nie je jediné, čo máme s Rusmi spoločné. Akurát ten ich je omnoho pikantnejší.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very, very good. The author emigrated from the Soviet Union to the US as a child with her mother and later became a food writer, with her first book focusing on food from the various cultures of the USSR. Each chapter of her memoir focuses on a different decade, from the 1910s through to Putin’s Russia, discussing both food and her family’s history. Beautifully written and so interesting.
Alysa H.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to read an early copy of this book. The title might mislead those unwilling to give it more than a shallow glance, as they'll assume it's a cookbook. It's actually the best kind of history book - a wonderfully written, rich cultural history told through the prism of personal experiences of the author and her family. The fact that most of those experiences use food as an anchoring point is splendid, I think, simply because food is so universal. Food is a to ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Weeeeellll, it made for a good book club because the host presented lots of examples of the food and there was vodka, of course! However, the writing was absolutely tedious! Beyond. Painfully. I actually found myself counting how many times she used the word bourgeois (it was way too many, by the way)! I kept asking myself what point was the author trying to present? Get to the point...get to the point. I chanted that in my head sometimes. The point was muddled. I still don't know what the autho ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, ebook
Nel mio passato di carnivora, durante un viaggio in Armenia mi capitò di mangiare uno stufato di agnello alla georgiana. Lo trovai buonissimo.
Scopro ora che si chiama canachi e che era il piatto preferito di Stalin.

A parte i miei trascorsi carnivori-stalinisti, il libro è interessante e divertente al tempo stesso, e consiglio di leggerlo.
Il libro mi ha sorpreso: è bello, da qualsiasi parte lo si guardi.
Sì, è un romanzo storico: racconta la Russia, dalla caduta degli zar alla costituzione dell'URSS, da Stalin a El'cin fino all'onnipresente Putin, ma attraverso le tavole imbandite e i supermercati vuoti.
Sì, è un'autobiografia, un memoriale e una saga famigliare. I parenti dell'autrice hanno avuto carriere interessanti e lei stessa si è reinventata autrice di libri di cucina quando un'infortunio ha fermato la sua carriera di pianis
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bevo a una casa distrutta

Il cibo è un fattore decisivo in ogni cultura e in qualsiasi sistema politico. A maggior ragione lo è in una nazione sterminata che ha fagocitato al suo interno una tempesta di cucine etniche, talmente lontane e diverse tra loro da non essere neanche parenti alla lontana; senza contare le centinaia di milioni di bocche da sfamare (o da lasciar morire a seconda del vento politico del momento). Il viaggio nostalgico dell'autrice è un viaggio politico e non uno sterile e
cristina c
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La cucina russa e la cucina sovietica sono solo lontane parenti.
Mentre la prima è un tripudio di sapori e di sensualità ( secondo Čechov i bliny ben fatti devono essere " porosi e paffuti come la spalla della figlia di un mercante"), la cucina sovietica si nutre per lo più di ricordi e di pallide eco di quel che si mangiava ai tempi dello zar ( di quel che alcuni mangiavano ai tempi dello zar, ma si sa, la storia la fanno i vincitori).
In mezzo ci sono le terribili carestie belliche, la fame ai
Huh. Somehow I always expect to enjoy culinary memoirs more than I do.

I mean yeah, this book was kind of interesting. Von Bremzen seamlessly flits around between history of the Soviet Union from 1917 on, her own family's experiences under the various regimes, and description of various Soviet foods that reflect the times. Von Bremzen includes several interesting-looking recipes at the end, although I agree with reviewers who felt these recipes would have been better placed throughout the book.

Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Not strictly a memoir, and certainly not a cookbook, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is an original. Anya Von Bremzen has told the history of the Soviet Union through the story of her grandparents, her mother, and herself, with a special emphasis on food.

It may sound like a goulash with too many ingredients, but the result is wonderful. In addition to enjoying an entertaining memoir about a memorable bunch of people, I learned a lot about what it was like to live in the Soviet Union at diff
Melanie  Hilliard
Politics, culture, family and the fall of Communism all orbiting around the subject of food. I guess that's how you win a Beard prize while the rest of us just write reviews. This is how it's done memoir / food writers, this is how it's done.
Written by a James Beard-award winning writer, it's a memoir about growing up in Russia and tells of Russian history through its food, the chapters divided by the decades from the twentieth through the twenty-first century. Overall I enjoyed reading this book, the subject matter was interesting and I love nothing more than hearing about the food culture in other countries--however I did find myself wishing that there was a little more food description included and slightly less depth on the hist ...more
Mark Staniforth
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From twelve-tiered kulebiaka - starting with the ground floor of burbot liver and topped with layers of fish, meat, game, mushrooms and rice, all wrapped up in dough, up, up, up to a penthouse of calf's brains in brown butter - to wartime starvation and food queues, Anya Von Bremzen's Mastering The Art Of Soviet Cooking serves up so much more than the relatively narrow ingredients offered by its title.
This is a sensory journey through Soviet history, using its food as a framework rather than its
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in the West during the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s, international relations were dominated by this thing called the Cold War. The war was between 'us' and 'them' - a whole different, entirely undesirable, backward, and frightening other world behind this other thing called the Iron Curtain. It probably never entered my empty teenage head that there were people just like us behind this Iron Curtain - Mums, Dads, children, teenagers, grandparents. They were, quite simply, all commun ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americani, s-m
Sputare il caviale dietro il radiatore,
oppure “Quello che i Russi avrebbero voluto mangiare durante il XX secolo”.
Il libro di Anja von Bremzen contiene alcune ricette, una per decade, ma anche molto altro: la storia della sua famiglia, tragica e divertente, le storie dei Russi fra carestie ed epurazioni, l’opinione media del popolo russo nei confronti dei leader dell’Unione Sovietica da Lenin in poi, fino a Gorbaciov; la storia di sua madre e soprattutto un’analisi del suo rapporto personale co
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part memoir and part family history, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a fascinating, affectionate, irreverent, and for me surprising inside account of everyday life during successive eras of the Soviet Union, from revolution through Stalin and Khrushchev to glasnost, paying particular attention to the food that was available and how it was acquired, prepared, and served. Having grown up in Cold War America reading it was like looking out at the world through the reverse side of a mirror.

Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Si può provare nostalgia per i tempi di Stalin? E perché Gorbachev, premio Nobel, grande statista e figura largamente amata e stimata in occidente è talmente ancora odiato in Russia, tanto da essere considerato in patria il più inviso e catastrofico leader della storia russa dalla rivoluzione a oggi? E si può trovare qualche risposta a queste ed altre domande sulla recente storia russa in un libro incentrato sul cibo e sulla cucina?

Che la storia non si faccia solo con le cronache ufficiali ce lo
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike what you might expect from the title, this book is more of a memoir and a history of the Soviet Union than a guide to cooking, but it is organized around the subject of getting and preparing food, which was a central concern in Soviet Russia. It takes its inspiration from Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, with his theme of the images and memories evoked by the taste and smell of food.

The author begins cleverly, paraphrasing the famous passage from Russian literature with her assertion
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Around the Year i...: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen 1 10 Jan 16, 2018 04:20PM  
Goodreads Librari...: isbn 978-0-307-88681-1 3 21 Sep 27, 2013 06:24PM  
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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. 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 ...more
“On Sundays Mom invariably ran out of money, which is when she cracked eggs into the skillet over cubes of fried black sourdough bread. It was, I think, the most delicious and eloquent expression of pauperism.” 5 likes
“Six paradoxes of Mature Socialism: 1) There’s no unemployment, but no one works; 2) no one works, but productivity goes up; 3) productivity goes up, but stores are empty; 4) stores are empty, but fridges are full; 5) fridges are full, but no one is satisfied; 6) no one is satisfied, but everyone votes yes.” 4 likes
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