January 2014

Anya von Bremzen

The fabulous Anya von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, will be Saturday’s plenary speaker on markets as a means of survival – provisional title, The Double Market in Soviet Russia

Anya knows of what she speaks. Soviet Cooking, subtitled a memoir of food and longing, was described by the New York Times as ‘a meticulously researched history of the Soviet Union’, while Leslie Chamberlain, no less, has just reviewed the book at full length with great enthusiasm in the Christmas double issue of the TLS.

Anya is a wise and witty woman, winner of three James Beard awards – cookbooks include The New Spanish Table and Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook (co-authored by John Welchman). She spent her childhood in Moscow and Baku as the daughter of a well-connected but dissident Russian mother. Mother and daughter emigrated to the US in 1974 with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Dissidence runs in the family: Anya’s great-great-grandmother – another Anna – was a famous Bolshevik feminist who ended up in a gulag and was responsible for freeing Muslim women in Soviet Tajikistan from their full-length horsehair veils.  Anya lives and writes in New York and Istanbul, contributes regularly to magazines and newspapers in the US, and is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure. Our Saturday lunch will be based on Anya’s choice of Soviet-era recipes – surprisingly delicious – from her memoir.

Tom Jaine in ppc 99 on the Symposium 2014. “The website is the gateway to enlightenment.”