Serious Reads: My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss
Many readers of this blog might be familiar with The Wednesday Chef, a popular site run by Luisa Weiss. Started in 2005, the blog chronicles Weiss' experiments in the kitchen as well as important events in her life. In My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (With Recipes), Weiss introduces us to her complicated and worldly family, her struggle to find a place to call home, and a slew of delicious recipes that she made along the way.
Weiss is half-American and half-Italian, but grew up in Berlin. The central theme of this memoir is Weiss' split identities—she feels connected to her roots in all three countries. After her parents' divorce, she spent half her time in the States and half in Berlin, with occasional trips to Italy to see family. This might sound like a glamorous lifestyle—and she certainly doesn't diminish the opportunities and good fortune presented to her through such travels—but Weiss feels as though she is constantly forced to assume different personalities and roles as she travels across the world.
After attending college in Boston, Weiss tried to ease her foreigner's blues by moving to Paris. Such a romantic city would surely set her back on track, except that Paris can be a harsh city without a companion. But then she met Max. Max was a Berliner himself, studying in France. His soft eyes and high cheekbones wooed her, and they fell deeply in love. But after several months of courting, Weiss once again felt unsettled. Paris wasn't her home. She moved back to New York and left her love behind.
The years went on and Weiss built a life for herself in New York: a successful career in publishing, a growing blog, a huge appetite for trying new recipes, and a long-term boyfriend who seemed he might become her husband. She banked up vacation days to make trips to see her mother in Berlin, hoping that each flight home to New York would become easier. But they never did.
Despite the ups and downs, this story has a happy ending. Weiss' final move was back to Berlin, where she finally felt some peace enter her perpetually disheveled heart. And a brief reacquaintance with Max soon reignited their relationship.
Though My Berlin Kitchen's subtitle might suggest that Weiss' romance with her husband is the central love narrative of the book, I feel that her real infatuation is with Berlin. Despite settling temporarily in many places around the world, Weiss' only real lasting love is for her homeland. Her feelings of misplacement are honest and relatable. For anyone who's ever moved away from home, only to find that nowhere in the world is quite as special—this is a lovely (and delicious-recipe-filled) read.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.