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OP: A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru

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by Violeta Autumn

There’s a lot to love in this attractive little book written, hand lettered, and illustrated by architect Violeta Autumn (1930–2012). Born to Jewish-Russian émigrés in Peru, Autumn records the multi-national, multi-ethnic recipes learned from her mother.

The text is preceded by the disclaimer “any similarity to kosher cookery is purely coincidental,” priming us, with humor, for the cornucopia of recipes willfully blending and bending culinary traditions (anyone averse to pork, shellfish, or dairy in combination with meat should turn away now). Similarly fluid, the dish names are transliterations combining Spanish, Russian, Yiddish, and English.

Autumn begins with simple “Russky Snacks,” including garlic bread, plachintas, and matzo rubbed with onion dipped in schmaltz. Page by page thereafter is a culinary tour through an adventurous kitchen.

Among those enticing delectables:

  • Okopa Arequipena—an indigenous Peruvian sauce typically served over hard boiled eggs, potatoes, and shrimp, thickened here with matzo
  • Tzimes (“tzimes mehr’n, as this dish is Yiddishly called, is served as a side dish on festive occasions and also to get carrots into children who hate carrots”)
  • A Russian interpretation of papas a la huancaina, which substitutes cottage cheese for queso fresco
  • Knishes with three varieties of dough and five choices of filling, all with their own instructions for shaping
  • Fish preparations from pickled herring and gefilte fish to seviche and chilcano—a Peruvian stew and recommended hangover cure
  • Pork in tamarind sauce

We could easily go on and on with each dish more appealing than the next, though we will restrain ourselves and leave some discoveries to you.

The final section of household remedies is endearingly titled “cookery quackery,” a fitting end for such a joyful ride.

We are pleased to offer a hardcover first printing. Very Good with shelwear and evidence of use in a kitchen, as we would hope. The jacket bears some scuffs and stains and small chipping to the top edge, though mostly bright and handsome.

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