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OP: Nela's Cookbook

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by Nela Rubinstein

Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. Hardcover. Near Fine. First printing.

Polish ballet dancer Aniela “Nela” Rubinstein (1908–2001), wife of famed pianist Arthur Rubinstein, was multi-talented not only as a performer but also as a linguist (she spoke seven languages) and as a visual artist—sculpting, painting, and embroidering. 

Also, she could cook. 

Cook she did for her artist, socialite, and politician friends (Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Ronald Colman, Cary Grant, and Julia Child, to name a few) in Paris, Marbella, and New York City where the Rubinsteins kept houses. Naturally, they all demanded a cookbook of her, which after six years of effort, she finally published in 1983.

With chatty headnotes and a range of dishes, Nela’s Cookbook retains both the airs of the bon vivant couple’s bohemian lifestyle and the “Old World” charm of Rubinstein’s upbringing in Poland and Lithuania. 

You’ll spot the likes of crayfish bisque with crayfish-butter dumplings; bigos—Polish hunter’s stew, here with dried cepes, pork shoulder, sauerkraut, bacon, apples, juniper, and other savory delectables; tripes a la varsovienne, scented with marjoram and thyme and served, ideally, with marrow and matzo dumplings; and raisin babka. All quite appetizing and pleasant.

Our copy is a Near Fine first printing with a NF, unclipped jacket. Despite its popularity upon publication, few copies are available on the secondary market, especially in this condition. A great find.

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