Book Review: “My Berlin Kitchen”
This “love story with recipes” is the newest-comer to my limited kitchen counter collection. I got a whiff somewhere that food-blogger-turned-writer Luisa Weiss (of The Wednesday Chef blog) lived in Berlin; I ordered her book ahead of my first visit.
I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a peek at the Brandenburg gate and a few lines about currywurst.
But Luisa (and if you feel like calling the writer by her first name, she did something right) has this lovely knack of enfolding you into her life along with scrumptious and fascinating food references. You are never far from a fretful identity crisis or a sublime dish. Or the two blended together. Each chapter ends with one recipe or several.
I sped through it. I may have possibly even needed a tissue by the end, something that has never happened before while indulging in a cookbook, except perhaps the “Joy of Cooking” onion section.
I especially savored the tidbits about life in Germany. Her insights into the cooking challenges here made me feel like I had found a sister upstate. (So that’s why my chocolate-chip cookies, the comfort food we desperately craved when we first arrived, flopped? European butter is fattier than American butter? What? Luisa! You must be kidding me!)
Still, all the charming anecdotes of a 30-something’s life in Berlin/NYC/Italy in the world wouldn’t permit me to put a memoir on my kitchen counter. I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. I need the precious counter space for standard-issue cookbook classics and food reference tomes and stained recipes in newsprint.
Except, then I tried her recipes.
I don’t think SP (my sweet husband) has looked so alarmingly happy at dinner in a long time. And he looks pretty cheerful generally. The look on his face said: Oh my god. What is this? And can I please have more? Immediately?
I made her Brussel Sprouts from Heaven (she calls them something more pedestrian and less accurate), which was a break-through recipe for me and those stubborn sprouts. That alone would have been worth the book price. (Assuming, I should caveat, you are the type who likes fish sauce, chili flakes and lemon zest. Which is not everyone, I realize sadly.)
The same evening, I made one of her two pizza recipes. Dough from scratch. Just yeast, water, olive oil, a pinch of sugar and salt. And it actually behaved. I loaded the crust, shaped to my dismay like one of Dali’s clocks, with anchovies, fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes and a sprinkling of dried oregano. (The Surrealist influence was all mine.)
The pizza was fantastic.
“My Berlin Kitchen” now lives on our counter. May the next 20 recipes be just as good.