A Year of Russian Feasts

A Year of Russian FeastsA Year of Russian Feasts

(Jellyroll Press, 2003 and Random House, UK)

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AWARDS

Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Travel Essay Award
Writer’s Digest Best International Cookbook Award
Benjamin Franklin Best New Voice Nonfiction Award
Finalist: The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Julia Child First Book Award 

Travel behind-the-scenes to a “private” Russia on a journey that takes you to a springtime bliny festival and Easter feast, to a small Russian village to preserve nature’s bounty, on a mystical quest for fall mushrooms, and to Red Square for New Year’s and Christmas celebrations. Stop along the way for a vegetarian dinner in a communal apartment, a birthday party, a baptism, a tea party, and a Russian wedding. Equal parts travel tales and recipes, this multi-award-winning book combines Catherine’s insightful writing style with her sensitive approach to discovering her family’s Russian heritage and its cuisine. My favorite review: “Five big stars for the Jones girl, her book and 40 Russian recipes!” writes Dick Sinnott in the Mattapan Tribune and Boston Post Gazette.

REVIEWS

A Year of Russian Feasts conveys delight in the shared table. Read this book, and you’ll understand why Russians consider guests a gift from God. Darra Goldstein, A Taste of Russia, Editor: Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture

This is a remarkable look at an important culture and delightful read, too. Dorie Greenspan, Baking with Julia

This book is a must-read for all armchair travelers, especially those that long for a taste of Russian culture. Joyce Toomre, Classic Russian Cooking

A Year of Russian Feasts has only forty recipes but they are all keepers. Joyce Goldstein, The Mediterranean Kitchen

This book perfectly reflects the way of life, traditions, and food of Russia. Sergei Krushchev, Creation of a Superpower

A charming memoir which brings alive the mouth-watering culinary traditions of Russia. Read it and rush to your kitchen! Suzanne Massie, Land of the Firebird

Other Russian cookbooks may have more recipes, but I haven’t seen any that show a better understanding of Russian cuisine. The Baltimore Sun, Liz Atwood

Five BIG stars for the Jones girl, her book and 40 Russian recipes! Mattapan Tribune (MA) and Boston Post Gazette 

Some cookbooks are bought solely for the recipes, while others – such as those written by Elizabeth David, Carol Field or M. F. K. Fisher – offer additional pleasure in the reading. They capture a time and place as they weave their stories and intermingle them with an occasional recipe. One such book is Catherine Cheremeteff Jones’ A Year of Russian Feasts. Especially since I was not familiar with Russian cooking, I found the book fascinating. The author goes into the homes of family and friends and reproduces recipes for festive occasions throughout the year. Ladue News

A charming, small volume. Las Vegas Sun

This excellent book is about the power of the people and not the princes of the past…What Jones – a chef of Russian background trained in Paris – also shares, is her knack for gorgeous writing – so often an optional ingredient that’s lacking in cookbooks. Trenton Times

Jones spent the first part of the turbulent decade of the nineties in Russia where she witnessed the collapse of Soviet Communism…In A Year of Russian Feasts, Jones explains to Western readers the regularly occurring Russian Orthodox feasts, those traditional dishes associated with them, and the holidays’ significance in the life of the church and people…There are simple and hearty beet soups, meat-stuffed dumplings, sweetly spiced and aromatic Easter bread, and many variations on potatoes. Rich and hearty, the recipes evoke a strong sense of the Russian landscape. Recipes require only generally available ingredients, so they are readily duplicated. Booklist

It’s a gem of a book. Washingtonian Magazine

The book is so many things: a colorful travel memoir, a bravely careful cookbook that simplifies complex recipes (and eschews the banal ones), and a treasure trove of lore gleaned during a three-year Moscow sojourn and from her Russian mother and grandmother. Washington Life

…offers one smitten traveler’s guide with Russian meals few have ever seen. Philadelphia News

Along the way, she pauses to consider the major holidays and feasts, to discuss the importance of basic ingredients and dishes, to explain cloaked traditions. The result is a loving portrait of one of the world’s richest – and most under-appreciated – cuisines…Jones brings just the right pedigree to the task. Her grandfather was Nikita Cheremeteff, great-great-grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. And she is a trained professional chef. Yet this is neither a dusty personal memoir nor a sterile listing of ingredients and cooking temperatures. In fact, this is a cookbook best read first and referenced later. Pull up a cup of tea and read with the seasons, percolate ideas for some meals, then refer back here for the ideal recipes… Russian Life

Leaving out European-inspired fare such as Beef Stroganov and Chicken Kiev, Jones instead includes the home cooking that is often inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church. Each chapter contains recipes such as Cheese Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce, Russian Easter Bread, and Individual Mushroom Casseroles and is accompanied by the often-poignant stories behind them. Not just a mere recollection of events, Jones’s books includes cultural information. Recommended for larger travel and cookery collections. Library Journal

Author and cook Catherine Cheremeteff Jones is content to leave the obvious Russian tourist attractions to others…She conducts a table-side tour of the land of czars, communists and Tchaikovsky. She shines a light on the country’s recipes, feasts and communal gatherings. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Although you find borsch and about forty other traditional and contemporary Russian recipes in A Year of Russian Feasts, you won’t enjoy even half this book has to offer unless you read it as you would a travel book or a memoir. Jones does a skilled job of evoking Russian culture – as it was and as it is today – and her book manages to be both charming and endlessly fascinating in its recounting of life in this amazingly large, varied, and very odd country. The Harvard Post

Part cookbook, part memoir, part travel guide, this beautifully written exploration of Russian cuisine and culture offers a loving portrait of food, festivals and friendship. Fullerton News Tribune

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