My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)

Overview

The Wednesday Chef cooks her heart out, finds her way home, and shares her recipes with us

It takes courage to turn your life upside down, especially when everyone is telling you how lucky you are. But sometimes what seems right can feel deeply wrong. My Berlin Kitchen tells the story of how one thoroughly confused, kitchen-mad perfectionist broke off her engagement to a handsome New Yorker, quit her dream job, and found her way to a new life, ...

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My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)

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Overview

The Wednesday Chef cooks her heart out, finds her way home, and shares her recipes with us

It takes courage to turn your life upside down, especially when everyone is telling you how lucky you are. But sometimes what seems right can feel deeply wrong. My Berlin Kitchen tells the story of how one thoroughly confused, kitchen-mad perfectionist broke off her engagement to a handsome New Yorker, quit her dream job, and found her way to a new life, a new man, and a new home in Berlin—one recipe at a time.

Luisa Weiss grew up with a divided heart, shuttling back and forth between her father in Boston and her Italian mother in Berlin. She was always yearning for home—until she found a new home in the kitchen. Luisa started clipping recipes in college and was a cookbook editor in New York when she decided to bake, roast, and stew her way through her by then unwieldy collection over the course of one tumultuous year. The blog she wrote to document her adventures in (and out) of the kitchen, The Wednesday Chef, soon became a sensation. But she never stopped hankering for Berlin.

Luisa will seduce you with her stories of foraging for plums in abandoned orchards, battling with white asparagus at the tail end of the season, orchestrating a three-family Thanksgiving in Berlin, and mending her broken heart with batches (and batches) of impossible German Christmas cookies. Fans of her award-winning blog will know the happy ending, but anyone who enjoyed Julie and Julia will laugh and cheer and cook alongside Luisa as she takes us into her heart and tells us how she gave up everything only to find love waiting where she least expected it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shuttled as a child of divorced parents between her Italian mother’s residence in Berlin and her mathematician father’s apartment near Boston, Weiss found a refuge for her “divided heart” in cooking. Living in New York City as a young publishing assistant and scout, she lived for a while with the companionable Sam, assuaging her career dissatisfaction by cooking and eventually starting a blog inspired by Julie Powell’s, called the Wednesday Chef, in which Weiss winnowed through stacks of recipes over a year and become a masterful cook, with Sam as eager guinea pig. Despite plans for marriage, however, at age 30, Weiss recognized how much she missed Berlin; resolved to stop being the obedient, dutiful daughter and make herself happy first, she moved back to the city in 2009, hooking up with an old boyfriend, Max, and finding the pieces of her life converging beautifully. Although the German temperament (described variously as blunt, languid, and simple) didn’t always suit her, and she couldn’t find bitter greens that she loved in New York, she threw herself into making some of the traditional German favorites such as seasonal baking of plum cake (Zwetschgen) and Kartoffelsalat. Recipes include some curious crowd-pleasers such as Rote Grutze with vanilla sauce and slow-baked quince, but also Italian tried-and-true dishes like ragu alla Bolognese and pizza Napoletana—since this thoughtful, earnestly winning memoir naturally ends in an Italian wedding. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Readers of Weiss's popular cooking blog, thewednesdaychef.com, know some of her personal history: a childhood split between her father in Boston and her mother in Berlin, her young adulthood working in publishing in New York City, the broken engagement and subsequent move to Berlin, followed by falling in love all over again with the city and the man who would eventually become her husband. This memoir fills in some of the blanks, exploring the loneliness and alienation of a child who never quite feels at home wherever she is, the postcollege time in Paris when she learned that "there was no shame in realizing that living in Paris was far less magical than visiting it," and the debilitating heartbreak when an important relationship fails. But there is plenty of joy, too: summers at her grandparents' Italian farmhouse, falling in love, and, always, the pleasures of the kitchen. Each chapter closes with a recipe for a dish referenced in the text, most of which represent one of the places Weiss has called home: German dishes like Pflaumenkuchen (yeasted plum cake) and Erbsensuppe (pea soup), Italian specialities like Peperoni al Forno Conditi (roasted pepper salad) and Bracioline di Antonietta (grilled beef skewers), French fare including Braised Endives and Poulet Sauté à la Paysanne Provençale (a rustic chicken dish), and a few American dishes, like her father's recipe for something called Depression Stew. VERDICT This charming food memoir will prove enjoyable to anyone who loves Laurie Colwin or M.L.K. Fisher.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
In her debut, The Wednesday Chef blogger recounts her life in and out of the kitchen. Weiss grew up shuttling between Berlin, where her Italian mother lived, and Brookline, Mass., home of her American father. As an adult, she moved from Paris to New York, where she began a food blog, until finally returning to Berlin to marry. Unfortunately, this coming-of-age memoir (with recipes) is fretful and flabby, and much of the prose violates the show-don't-tell rule of writing. In one section, she describes how a pigeon almost collides with her head, interpreting the event as a sign from the universe that she should break up with her fiancé. In the hands of a more experienced writer, this could have been a gripping, even moving, discovery, but Weiss' retelling of the event is unfocused and rambling--more fit for a stream-of-consciousness blog than a full-length book. Each overinflated chapter closes with a recipe from the author's blog or from her personal life. A few of the recipes (e.g., spaghetti with breadcrumbs, capers and parsley) are so rudimentary, anyone who knows their way around a kitchen may wonder why they were included at all. But many more are ludicrously complicated, such as poppy-seed breakfast rolls that take more than three hours to make and "don't keep well, so make sure to eat them warm the morning they're made." Still others require ingredients most Americans will be unable to find--e.g., one recipe calls for "20 to 25 elderflower sprays." Weiss' suggestion is to "look for them in the wild." Much of the often-clunky writing leads to queasy descriptions of food, like a white asparagus salad "slurped up…lustily" and an "unctuous, quivering ragù." Half-baked and unappetizing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670025381
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/13/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Luisa Weiss was born in West Berlin and spent her childhood between Berlin and Boston. She started The Wednesday Chef, an award-winning food blog, in 2005. She has worked as a cookbook editor in Paris and New York and now lives in Berlin with her husband, Max.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Strange Little Island 1

Part 1

1 I Never Want to Leave 9

2 The Apple of His Eye 13

3 A Distant Memory 20

4 An Unfair Advantage 25

5 My Sicilian Uncle 33

6 The Matter of Breakfast 41

7 Depression Stew 46

8 At First Sight 54

9 Not At All Ready 61

Part 2

10 I Fell Hard and Fast 69

11 The Wednesday Chef 77

12 So Easy 84

13 A Divided Heart 91

14 Everything You Could Ever Want 97

15 It Shook Me Awake 106

16 Eating for Heartbreak 116

Part 3

17 A Solemn Oath 121

18 I Believe It Now 127

19 Leap and the Net Will Appear 136

20 A Chorus of Thousands 143

21 Crossroads of the World 148

Part 4

22 Not for the Faint of Heart 155

23 Light and Sparkle 163

24 That Sacred Space 169

25 Bitter Greens 179

26 Breaking the Spell 187

27 Yearning with a Vengeance 192

28 I'll Get It Right Next Time 198

29 I Decide to Be Brave 207

30 Friends and Neighbors 213

31 We've Come a Long Way 222

32 Turning Up the Heat 229

33 Such Abundance 234

34 Stunningly Complete 239

Part 5

35 The Happiest Man in the World 247

36 Thanksgiving in Berlin 252

37 Something of an Epiphany 258

38 Full of Rewards 267

39 The Perfect Place 274

40 All of Me 281

41 The Luckiest Girl 288

Acknowledgments 295

Index 299

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    A well written, quick read - Weiss is easy to love. I've tried a

    A well written, quick read - Weiss is easy to love. I've tried a few recipes and they've come out great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    I loved this book. the author connects all of her memories to f

    I loved this book. the author connects all of her memories to food & family, which is really my style of book. I actually read the entire book in one sitting. The recipes, those of which I have tried, have obviously been tested & work well. I am a sucker for a good love story & this book certainly is that. The conclusion of the book is satisfying & I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes, love, food & a good story

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good Idea, Mediocre Execution

    Food and cooking can create very vibrant, emotional memories, which is why this memoir was so intriguing to me. Weiss recounts her life with an emphasis on food: which recipes were taught by which family members, which foods evoke which memories and why, how food has been her anchor through various life events, etc. The idea itself is excellent, and even the writing isn't bad. My only problem was that I found myself constantly thinking "Don't stop there! Go deeper!"

    Each chapter began with such promise, drawing me into Weiss' world, making me feel her emotions. Then the time came to bring food into the mix, and I was sharply yanked away from my growing connection with the author so that she could share a recipe. Some chapters felt more forced than others. I think it would have been wise for the publishers to suggest that she insert a recipe where it intersected with the story, not just because a chapter was about to end.

    The idea of the book is really great, but in the end, the emphasis on food and providing recipes hindered my connection with the author and ultimately felt gimmicky. As for the recipes themselves, many of the ingredients are foreign and would be difficult to find and expensive to purchase (though Weiss does offer suggestions on occasion). Most of them are nothing I'd want to put the effort into trying, but then, I'm only an average cook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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