Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

I love to read "food writing" books.  While I am no expert in the kitchen, I do love to cook.  Sometimes I have a winner, sometimes things don't work out quite the way they should have--undercooked chicken, a sauce that I over-seasoned, and just plain "please don't make that again" from my boyfriend.

This memoir is chock full of recipes, so if you get the itch, you can try a few.  But before you do that, sit down to an enjoyable tale of a young woman who finds her way home through cooking.

Luisa was born in West Berlin to an American father and an Italian mother.  Their marriage doesn't last, and Luisa moves to Boston with her father very early in life.  Every summer, she flies to Berlin to spend time with her mother; sometimes they head to Italy to stay at her grandfather's home, eat fantastic meals prepared by her family, and playing with her cousins.  Sounds like a dream life, right?

But Luisa is torn between what she calls her "European self" and her "American self".  And as she grows older, she yearns for Berlin and ends up moving back to live with her mother and graduate from high school in what is now a unified Germany.

Luisa stays connected to her far-flung family and friends by cooking recipes that evoke memories of holidays, special moments, and home.  But where is home?   As life takes her to Paris (and a possible true love) and New York, she is always quietly searching for her home.  As someone who never really had one stable home, it is difficult for her to feel truly comfortable in any one place--she's always yearning for that one place that will make her happy.  To cope,  she keeps cooking through heartbreak, job changes, and travel.  

Does she find happiness and home?  You'll just have to read this and find out.  If you don't usually read non-fiction, this is a perfect start:  a sweet memoir that takes you traveling through Europe and New York, has a funny yet thoughtful narrator, and maybe, just maybe, a happy ending.  

Rating: 7/10 for a swift read, yet more in depth that you would think.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

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