Luisa Weiss had an American dad, an Italian mother, and grew up in Germany and the United States. As she reached adulthood, she began to wonder where in the world she belonged. She explored her heritages through travel and food. Her memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, is an attempt at catharsis through writing and eating. It was our Kitchen Reader pick for January.
Much of Luisa Weiss' story resonated with me. It is hard to be a person who doesn't know where home is. I am not sure my homeless feelings are as consuming as hers, though. I count Canada, the UK, Europe, and Hong Kong among my choices for a place of belonging. And for the most part, I feel happy in all of them. For Weiss, she was overwhelmed not by rootlessness, but the feeling that she had roots in too many places. And these places were impossible to be in all at once.
Weiss connects her feelings of home with food, a natural feeling to many, it seems. Each chapter of her memoir includes a meaningful recipe and many of them are intriguing and drew me in further to the story. (Weiss also writes and publishes recipes on her blog, The Wednesday Chef.) Top of my list to try soon are spicy roasted chicken thighs. They are a comfort meal for Weiss, and I can see why. While roasting they would smell like the garlicky promise of care and belonging.
A lobster dinner is the taste of my Canadian home. And my annual Christmas visits with my parents include a lobster dinner at my request. The steaming lobster and the silky butter are set out over the newspaper-covered table. We each use a set of sharp implements. After only a few minutes, everyone's hands are a mess of seawater and lobster juice. My brother takes over the tutelage of any visitor who needs pointers on how to attack their lobster. My mother likes to suck out the minute pieces of meat in each leg. My dad likes to crack the claws and save some for lobster sandwiches the next day. At the end, we grab the newspaper and debris and roll them up into a bundle, and toss it straight into the compost bin. Every year we enjoy the pleasures of lobster as a family. The lobster dinner shows me that we belong together.
What foods signify home for you?
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