reading: my berlin kitchen

It’s not uncommon for me to brag (humbly, mind you) of the joys of owning an iPad, particularly as it pertains to digital reading. No more lugging around 3 books and 4 magazines just because I simply can’t decide what I’ll feel like reading. No more carsickness.

And the best part? No. more. papercuts.

Except, something happened. A few weekends ago, I found myself in Cambridge, visiting a girlfriend at Harvard. With a spare hour of alone time and an impending 4.5 hour train ride ahead of me, I stopped into the Harvard Bookstore. It’s been ages since I’ve been in a real bookstore, and, as you can probably guess, I hurried out with a heap of gorgeous new books in a canvas tote bag slung over my shoulder. Can’t trust me at a food market, can’t trust me at the bookshop.

And so, for the last two weeks, I’ve been walking around with a book in hand. Constantly. It’s been like rediscovering old friends, with the exception of one pretty nasty papercut.

Several hours ago, I finally put down My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. I say “finally” because I have been attached to Weiss’s memoir, as my auntie will attest to. I went everywhere with that book, sneaking a few pages worth of reading whenever I could. In a word, I loved it. I devoured it – and this is totally okay, as it was “A Love Story (With Recipes)”.

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I’ll admit, what first drew me to the book was its title. I, too, fell in love with Berlin after spending a week there this summer. The energy, the history, how it can seem so small and familiar, yet so large and undiscovered. I understood how one friend decided to move there for a month, just to experience living there. Plant a book in front of me that mentions two of my favorite places in one breath and is it really any wonder I plucked it up immediately?

My Berlin Kitchen is exactly what it professes to be – a story of love of self, of home, of family, of friends, and of life partner. Each segment of Weiss’s life is offered up with the undernote of a particular dish, the recipe of which is revealed at the chapter’s end. Weiss writes with such sensitivity and honesty, and it’s impossible to not be drawn into her stories. At points I found myself wishing I could grab her hand and say, I know! I feel exactly the same way sometimes and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I imagine these conversations happen over coffee/tea and shared cakes, and that our talks would go on for hours.

Weiss’s gift with words is undeniable. Here is her book of which food is a central theme, where recipes are provided and yet, there are no pictures. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Get it? Still, there I was, dreaming of Christmas in Berlin as Weiss so perfectly described the wonderful tradition that is the Christmas goose. No touched up photographs, just Weiss describing the sensation of a crisp goose skin crackling in your mouth. Even her heartbreak makeshift Greek salad sounded delicious. I might just make it for lunch next week. I grinned as I thought of the many times I have chased the last bits of a meal around my plate with a piece of bread. And when Weiss described her nuptials at the book’s end, I laughed and I cried and I’m not ashamed of either. I felt like I was there .

If I say any more about it, I’ll give away the bits that are best left for self discovery, as I am wont to do. I cannot recommend this book to you enough times, or with enough positive words. Lucky for me, Weiss maintains a blog she started in 2005 called The Wednesday Chef, which I will be checking in on constantly. In the meantime, I suggest you pick up a copy – a real copy – of her book either here, or whatever bookstore you enjoy getting lost in.

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