Mimi Sheraton has written a lot of cookbooks. And I love all of them, but From My Mother’s Kitchen, her memoir cookbook, is my favorite. I will read this book just for the stories. And the recipes are fabulous too.
Ms. Sheraton is a famous cookbook writer, who was the food critic for the New York Times from 1975 to 1983. Some of her books include The German Cookbook, Visions of Sugarplums, The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup, The Bialy Eaters, and Eating My Words. (And she cowrote Is Salami and Eggs Better Than Sex? Memoirs of a Happy Eater” with Alan King – read it!)
I have read them all. But From My Mother’s Kitchen is my favorite.
The book chronicles her childhood and food experiences. The way she writes about food is so incredibly evocative. Her words make you long to eat what she is describing.
My favorite chapters in the book are “Eating Out,” and “Sour Pickles.” Of going to restaurants, she writes about eating at Lundy Brothers in Brooklyn, “Light reflections from the sunlit water outside bubbled onto the white ceilings, and the atmosphere was filled with the pulsating murmur of voice, the tinkle of ice, the clatter of silver, and laughter. My parents would nod to friends or stop to chat with them at the big wet and briny clam bar (one dozen cherrystones or littlenecks each was the warm-up while waiting for a table), and the whole adventure had about it the festive air of an ocean liner about to set sail.”
Can’t you just see it?
Her chapter on Sour Pickles is wonderful too. Her grandmother made the pickles and kept them in big wooden barrels on the porch. She writes, “carefully, stealthily, we knelt against the back of the glider and dipped in. Oh the ecstasy, as teeth snapped through the firm but tender skin to the cool, spicy interior that slowly, juicily released its counterpointed flavors of hot peppers, garlic, dill, the piny bay leaves and exotic mustard seeds and the faintly winy-cider tang of the pickling liquid made yeasty with a crust of sour rye bread.”
Can’t you just taste it?
The recipes in the book are equally amazing. Her mother’s recipe for Chicken Soup is the gold standard. Her recipes for Shrimp au Gratin, encased in a crisp golden bread crumb crust, and Seafood Newburg are stellar. I love the recipes for Pot Roasted Brisket, Chocolate Almond Torte, and Halibut Salad with Dill.
But the recipe I like best is for Schnecken, or Cinnamon Rolls. The only change I make to that recipe is to frost the cooled rolls with a simple buttercream icing. They are tender and fluffy with the best flavor – they melt in your mouth.
So try this book. You’ll get lost in the language and the memories and you’ll enjoy every second. Of reading and eating!