Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is a an enchanting food memoir. The story of Anya and her family is a chronicle of events from the revolution right down to Anya sold sticks of Juicy Fruit gum that she bought at the black market. This is a story of the food and history of Russia as seen through the eyes of one family. Featuring her grandfather the soviet spy. Her mother’s feeble attempts at making the new fangled food Pizza, made with ketchup and mayonnaise, the only ingredients that she could get. These are only a few of captivating characters written about in the book.
I absolutely loved this book. I picked it up to read because I was curious with Russian food given the location of the Olympics this year. I got so much more than I bargained for. I found it absolutely fascinating that when communism came in one of the first things they did was changed what and how the people ate. They went from having household kitchens to having apartments with communal kitchen.
I think the biggest testament to the book is Von Brezman’s description of Kulebiaka. She and her mother wanted it so bad that while on a trip to Paris they used their last bit of vacation money to get some, only to find that it just didn’t taste the same. It wasn’t until they found someone in the states that immigrated to the US as well that they found a Kulebiaka recipe close enough to what they were able to get at home. I HAD to get my hands on the pie. Of course there are no Russian restaurants near me so I had to make it myself. Thankfully, it came out alright. (See results here)
Overall I found this book to be entertaining, educational and incredibly endearing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves food, history and family dramas.