My Berlin Kitchen
Blogger Luisa Weiss's celebration of German cuisine separates 'My Berlin Kitchen' from the pack of food memoirs.
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But what really separates "My Berlin Kitchen" from the pack of food memoirs is its celebration of German cuisine. As Weiss notes, "Germany, with its overcast skies and its inescapable history, often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to capturing the imagination of food lovers and romantics. There's not much use in competing with sleepy Provençal towns and picturesque Italian villages."Skip to next paragraph
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Although she does include recipes for such German classics as Pickled Herring Salad with Potatoes and Beets, and Pea Soup made with potatoes and wieners, Weiss makes a strong case for German cooking being about more than just sausages and potatoes. Her recipes for seasonal specialties featuring wild-harvested fruit and vegetables include elderflower syrup, white asparagus salad, and Pflaumenkuchen – a yeasted plum cake. While perhaps unlikely to make American readers rush to their kitchens (or to the Internet to source the hard-to-find ingredients), they're certainly intriguing. Her evocation of elaborate German Christmas celebrations, complete with spicy honey cookies and roasted goose that's "not for the weak or for the faint of heart," is particularly delectable.
Many of the recipes in "My Berlin Kitchen" are comfort foods rooted in Weiss's childhood, the preparation of which later assuaged her chronic homesickness. From her father's homely, simple, vegetarian meals, she offers a meatless tomato, vegetable and bean Depression Stew – good for both economic and emotional low points. Sour Cherry Quarkauflauf, a "rustic cherry soufflé of sorts" made with Quark, the ubiquitous, low-fat, German fresh cheese, is from her beloved Tagesmutter, literally day-mother, or nanny, while her Pizza Siciliana with escarole and anchovies (she's big on anchovies) comes from her Italian uncle.
Some of her favorite foods, though, are from the pros, whom she's always careful to credit. Amidst Weiss's schmaltzy if heartwarming story about finding "home in the kitchen," it's an added bonus to discover Bill Telepan's appealing Tomato Bread Soup, Jamie Oliver's pizza dough, and Jacques Pepin's Apple Tart.