“My Berlin Kitchen-The Apple of His Eye” by Luisa Weiss

January14

No secret here-I love to read.  This winter, I have averaged 2-3 books per week and I have a stack of them waiting for me on my night table.  Although I have been drawn to fiction all of my days and have had dalliances with some non-fiction travel writing, I am crazy about what I call the newest genre- the blogger/book author.   I too have a book in my head but not enough hours in the day to actually get it out of there or to put my “real” work aside, (the work that pays the bills while I support my “writing” habit).  So I am fascinated by the bloggers turned authors who have managed to pull all of this together.  And I love the authenticity with which they write: recounting the disappointments and indeed heartbreaks  but also the joys and triumphs in the kitchen and in life.  Luisa Weiss is my latest fascination.  In this excerpt she is writing of her relationship with her Dad which has so many parallels to my own.

My sweet Dad was as much my food mentor as my Mom.  I inherited my Dad’s inventiveness when I make “refrigerator” soup and I would attribute my natural instincts of knowing what foods will pair well together from him.  My love of salty/sweet is all about my Dad.  Just this Christmas, I was so hoping that someone would ask me about my recipe for the ham glaze because I intentionally mimicked my Dad’s style: throw open the fridge door, get your head and arms in there and start pulling out jars and bottles of sauces and chutneys and marinades, mixing homemade preserves with Asian, Italian and French concoctions.  The result was fabulous (in my mind at least) perhaps because it tasted like “Christmas past”.

And so here is an excerpt by Luisia Weiss. But do not limit your reading to here, go out and buy My Berlin Kitchen.

But best of all, my father gave me a family tomato sauce.  He says he got the recipe from my mother’s mother, Nini, whom he adored, but my mother says that couldn’t possibly be true, because Nini hated to cook.  They always like to argue about who was right on this count.  “Ree-chard, don’t you think I’d know if my mother ever made that tomato sauce.” Oh, get out of town.  Are you telling me that I don’t remember who taught me how to make it?”  I didn’t mind the arguing; it was nice hearing their voices together in the same room.  And besides, I didn’t really care where the sauce came from-to me, it was his sauce.

It may seem a little funny to talk about tomato sauce.  Chances are you scarcely need a recipe for one.  The thing is, this is where it all starts for me.  This sauce was one of the first things I ever made.  It’s the only thing I tend to cook when there’s nothing in the kitchen and I need a quick dinner: its what I cook when there’s nothing I’d rather be doing less than cooking.  It’s what I make when I need steadying and reassurance.  Its smell reminds me of my father and my Italian Grandmother and I like to think that, one day, it’ll be the first recipe my children inherit from me.  If it’s not a family heirloom, then I don’t know what is.

To make it, he would dice up an onion and throw it along with a clove of garlic into a pot of olive oil warming on the stove.  The smell of the cooking onions would drift past the pantry into the living room, where I’d sit in anticipation.  When the onions were soft and fragrant, he’d add chopped carrots and canned tomatoes into the pot and the whole thing would simmer together until it got sweet and saucy and I could hear my stomach growl.  He’d boil a pot of water for spaghetti and break the long strands in half to cook them.  Then he’d dress the whole thing.  We’d sit down at the drop-leaf table in the kitchen and we’d eat together and talk about the day.

Sometimes before bedtime, after he’d finish singing to me and he’d said good-night, he’d turn at the doorway, ready to switch off the light, and tell me I was the apple of his eye, the love of his life.  But I’m not sure he ever really needed to.  I knew it all along.

Kath’s quote: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm17:8

Love-that is all.


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One Comment to

““My Berlin Kitchen-The Apple of His Eye” by Luisa Weiss”

  1. Avatar January 14th, 2013 at 3:20 pm Sister #3 Says:

    I miss Dad….what a wonderful man and food inspiration he was. S


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