Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Living Abroad (Tuscany and Germany )

"My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes)" by Luisa Weiss

If you asked Luisa where she was from she would probably have to consider her answer before replying. Grown up in Berlin until her parents split, then raised in Boston by her Dad except when she was on summer vacations back in Berlin, then some time in Paris, time in New York City, almost to San Francisco, and then back to Berlin, for good (for now). It's a lot of bouncing around, but it helps to make her who she is (even if sometimes she struggles with the "who she is", like we all do).

You foodie types might now Luisa from her blog The Wednesday Chef where she cooks and bakes her way through huge piles of clipped and stacked recipes.Before she started her blog (and then eventually wrote this book) she was in the publishing business. She even worked in the cookbook department of a publishing company in Paris, how fun is that?

In her book she addresses the things that have happened in her life. Her parents splitting, never really feeling like she was from somewhere, a broken engagement, love lost and love wondrously found again. She's gone through a lot of feels in a lot of different places.

One thing that was always a constant in her life was cooking. She makes her family's tomato sauce for comfort food, she baked German Christmas cookies by the dozens when she struggled to re acclimate to Berlin the second time, her boyfriend makes her a huge pot of German pea soup when he introduces her to his friends.

The book also includes some really delicious sounding recipes. There was about one or two that I could maybe handle, the Christmas goose recipe sounds like something that would take me untold years and untold dollars to get even edible.

I'm not a great cook by any means (I'm passable) and I still enjoyed this book.It even made me very curious about white asparagus and figs.Who wants to cook for me? :) I've been to Berlin and it's an intriguing complicated city and the book made me want to go back and experience the city again. Maybe she'll cook if I visit? I give the book a 3 out of 5 stars!


"At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life" by Jennifer Criswell

This was the first book that I had read on my newly acquired Kindle, and my first book from Netgalley! (It's a castoff from my Mom, she reads on her Ipad now). So, that's exciting for no one else but me, but there it is. This is also 1 of 2 books about Tuscany that you're going to get this year, not intentionally,just happened that way.

Jennifer has a dream that a lot of people have, being an expat in some beautiful place where you find success and are instantly brought into your new community with loving arms and open hearts. Her dream is exactly that, a dream. Jennifer is in her late 30s and hating her life as a New York City lawyer. She has saved and saved, and finally pulls the trigger, moving to Tuscany specifically Montepulciano, a small town that she fell in love with on a trip. It's just her, her old weimaraner Cinder, some savings, and a basic grasp of basic Italian.She imagines that she will pick up on the language quickly, do a lot of writing, find a job in the meantime to supplement her nest egg and make lots of new friends. This doesn't quite happen.

She finds a great small apartment, with a lovely view and a place to hang your laundry out of your window like in the movies. (Though her landlord isn't particularly nice or helpful). The town is full of small shops (especially cheese and olive oil) that cater to the tourists who come in summer time. There's a wonderful market in town on Wednesday and one of them is a delightful vendor to whom she takes a liking (rawr) and starts putting out feelers for jobs.

The problem is she needs proper papers to work and she failed to take into account the slowness and red tape that Italy specializes in. It takes months and months. She thinks that she can take on locals who want to learn English. However most of the men who approach her think that English lessons from a single American means something else, mostly lecherous things. And then theres the day that her duvet freezes on the laundry line. There are times where she's pretty sure she will be homeless (though it never actually happens). Uggggh.

I liked this book because it doesn't sugar coat things. Yeah you live in this beautiful place, but that doesn't mean that everything is going to be glorious. It's likely that at some point you're going to be lonely and broke and wondering if you did something REALLY stupid by leaving a comfortable job and all your friends and family. 3 out of 5 stars from me!

This is great and all but I'm still about to be homeless.

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