Cover Image: Air and Love

Air and Love

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Member Reviews

Food is a good way to make people meet, to create or pass traditions and it's always a piece of history.
This a book about a Jewish family of the Diaspora and it's also a way to remember those who went and their life through what they ate
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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T.he book was interesting and I enjoyed it to a point. I thought I would discover my own Jewish Heritage more but sadly not. Glad to have had the oppotunity to read it and the theme of food crosses all cultures and religions. Thaks to Net Galley for an ARC

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Title: Air and Love: A Story of Food, Family and Belonging
Author: Or Rosenboim
Genres: Cooking, Food & Wine | Biographies & Memoirs | History
Pub Date: 23 May 2024
Pages: 272
Format Read: EPUB
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐⭐

Fans of culinary memoirs will find much to love in 'Air and Love', a beautiful biography interwoven with family recipes.

I was initially slightly disappointed that this wasn't more of a "cookbook with family history" - ie, heavier on the recipes - but after a few pages I was pulled in by the fascinating story of the author's ancestors and transported back and forth along the silk roads, from Central Asia to Latvia, Russia, Israel, Eastern Europe, back and forth & beyond. The writing is as warm and inviting as the journey, with the author striking that rare balance in this genre of never overly-romanticising the past, or indeed her own family members, while at the same time inviting us to understand the specific challenges, socio-political conditions & world events that helped to shape their worlds.

She is careful to give voices, autonomy & dignity to women (and men) in her family who struggled with the strictures of family & societal expectations that didn't suit their natures.

And she rewards us with some beautiful, deeply personal recipes such as Osh-Palao (rice & lamb), Bichak (a pumpkin pastry), Shulamit's Bakhsh (fluffy rice with beef), Mahlab Kaak (cookies with mahlab) and many more. She explores how these recipes changed with her ancestors' movements - sometimes remaining traditional, oftentimes adapting to local ingredients in the diaspora.

For those not familiar with Bukharian or Mizrahi Jewish recipes (at this time even Sephardic food is still underrepresented in media, though thankfully this is changing) or who only think of Ashkenazi food when they think of Jewish cookery, these aromatic, spice-rich dishes will be eye-opening, and resonate much closer with Persian or Mughal cooking than that of Central Europe.

Fans of the excellent 'Parwana' by Durkhanai Ayubi and 'Persiana' by Sabrina Ghayour will love the offerings in this book.

Overall, a wonderful read, never too heavy, spiced generously with the scents, tastes, sights, and smells of some truly fascinating places.

Of note, my eARC sadly lacked any photos or illustrations whatsoever, and so I feel I missed out on quite a bit - other reviewers have complimented these. No stars off for this, of course, but I suspect the impact of the book in full would be even better.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan, NetGalley, and the Author for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

#AirandLove #NetGalley

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I liked this book plenty!
The author smoothly blends memoir with cherished recipes.
The family history serves as a glimpse to parts of the human history, and encourages the reader to imagine how people lived in Samarkand, Tashkent, Palestine, Riga, Jerusalem and many other places (especially in Russia, Ottoman Empire, Middle East and today’s Tajikistan) with specific focus on what their food was like.
Some of the recipes are familiar to me personally, however even if you are new to both these recipes and the history of the mentioned places, you can still enjoy this book and like the recipes.
I will revisit this book to get the most out of it.
The style is reader friendly, unique, and the content is absolutely rich.
I wish I had written this book! It has helped me reconnect with my family recipes, reinvent them and appreciate them.
The cover and the recipes increased my appetite, and I can also smell fruits and many of the herbs mentioned in the book. The book is oozing flavours and delicious smells.

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Very interesting family memoir by the author. From Samarkand to Jerusalem, stories of her family's past interwoven with the recipes that her great/great grandmothers used to cook. I will definitely be trying some of these recipes.

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Or Rosenboim tells the story of her family through food; she recalls their journeys and struggles, migrations, separations and reunitions weaving the story together with recipes from their tables.

If you enjoy personal history, it's an enjoyable read and I loved learning how the family dishes came to be. How many different cultures and landscapes shaped each dish. The family faced a lot of difficult moments in history, much adversity and Rosenboim communicates how food was at times sustenance, but ultimately connection.

The book is sensitively written; migration is an emotive subject and particularly given current happenings in Palestine. There were some phrases and ideas in the book that really stuck with me.

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In Or Rosenboim's memoir, she delves into her family's heritage using food as a lens, charting migrations from Samarkand and Riga to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Recounting her childhood, Rosenboim fondly recalls how family tales were woven into the flavors of her grandmothers' culinary creations. Exploring their memoirs and recipe collections, she embarks on a heartfelt voyage, uncovering themes of displacement and fortitude. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book for review. All views expressed are solely my own.

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I enjoyed this read but it wouldn’t be something I’d read again.
It was enjoyable but not particularly captivating. It was difficult to stay interested but then at times was really interesting.
The use of recipes throughout whilst learning about family history was a great idea but just not for me.
I felt it was too jumpy at times and skipped too much.

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Diaspora and its continuation; family, loss and resilience; food as anchor us time and place

Rosenboim’s book of the complexities of her own family tree, taking us back and forth between the Levant that is, countries of what is now called the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean countries and what has, at different times, been part of the Ottoman Empire, the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics, and independent states is a distressing as well as fascinating one.

She begins in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in the 1880’s. She, and her ancestors are Jewish, and so, inevitably, at different times and places, being Jewish, as well as identifying as a national of the country one is born in, or living in, has been more or less safe. Some times and in some places, different religions and ethnicities live side by side, some other times the same places can become markedly unsafe. Empire building countries, whether in ancient or more modern times, create problems. The acquisition of territory or control over the population in that territory has led, does lead, to diaspora.

Whilst inevitably her family history involves exactly WHY Jewish people have needed a home – this stretches back far further than the 1930s, she is also aware that finding that home has displaced others.

Personal history is never separate from geopolitical history.

I found myself both fascinated by the adventurous, resilient open-minded willingness to embrace and adapt to different cultures and ways of living, and utterly distressed by the continued displacement of one group of people from places they call home, by other groups of people.

The positivity in her book comes from the passing down across the generations of recipes, mothers to daughters, of food which comes from one place, gets adapted in another place, as this or that food becomes available or is not available, so that the tastes of one’s own particular home, as a child, is both deeply personal, and also, part of history and geography

There are a lot of recipes in here. Most of which I personally am, as a vegetarian, never likely to make, though I did enjoy reading them, and was also a little overwhelmed by the huge amount of work involved, by the women, to put food of time, place and culture on the plate.

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An interesting, culturally explorative memoir following various strands of a family as they navigate the turbulence of 21st Century Europe as part of the Jewish diaspora. Weaved within the journey of the family members as they move and adapt their lives, are traditional recipes, illustrations of the geographical area and hardship they are facing at any one time. Food is a vital part of all cultures, and we all have our own traditions within how it is prepared and eaten, so the use of recipes and food alongside a family’s rich history was an interesting and powerful way to explore memory and tradition.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book.

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This is everything I love in a book. It has family history, modern history, transience, travelling between cultures, the Jewish diaspora and food providing the thread that ties them all together. I found it like an imagined Silk Road parallel, Samarkand to Palestine, re-routing via Moscow, Riga, London, Tashkent, Odessa, Afghanistan...the list goes on. It tugs so many emotional chords by its fantastic evocation of time and place.

In a beautifully weaved narrative the author demonstrates how imperialism (in its many guises) turned natural human co-operation into division, discontent and sectarianism which are its legacy. To make such vast topics so accessible through a family story is hugely accomplished and help the reader understand many of today's geo-political hot issues. I was riveted.

Identity is seamlessly woven within the pages. Generations accustomed to (very arduous) travel and peripatetic lives define "home" by their food and how it evolves dependent upon the ingredients in each location.

I would suggest that anybody interested in Jewish food and history from the Middle East, the Caucasus, Russia and Eastern Europe also takes a dive into some of these other books which tell similar stories in different ways:

Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford
Shaya by Alon Shaya
Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen
and of course Claudia Roden quoted within this book who writes substantively in The Book of Jewish Food (and other books)

With thanks to #NetGalley and #PanMacmillan for the opportunity to read and review

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4.5 stars
I absolutely fell in love with this style of family history and memoir. Tying the family's disparate strains together through food with some mouth-watering recipes enthralled me as I read about how her migrant family's cooking traditions changed or did not with their relocation. More than showing her family's food culture, looking through the lens of food allows her to show her family's experiences in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout this book she would use dishes that she still makes to connect with those long-gone or not-so-long gone or even those ancestors she did not know much about, highlighting the power of family recipes in creating a family food culture.

This book is a delight to read and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good memoir or a good foodie book. Also eat snacks while you read it to stave off cravings!

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A fascinating insight to a migrant Jewish family, starting in 1870 in Riga Latvia and sometimes by choice but most of the time by necessity always on the move through Eastern Europe, into Russia and Israel, one branch ending up in Italy. The book is in four parts following different branches of the family through stories passed down and diaries, living as Jews through two World Wars so plenty of escaping. Liberally sprinkled with recipes which reflect the circumstances and location that the family find themselves in. From wealth to poverty, but what really shines through is the adaptation to circumstances with different ingredients. It is the culinary experiences that bind this family together.

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In her memoir, Or Rosemboim pieces together the story of her Jewish family through diaspora, love and, perhaps most importantly, food. Family recipes become the fil rouge that brings together different generations who try to find and maintain their identity in a changing world, starting from the 1800s. Reading this book now was particularly topical, given that it also offers insights into the complex history of Palestine. Written with love and compassion, this memoir manages to preserve its historical accuracy while never failing to be entertaining. As a fellow academic (the author is an associate professor in Contemporary History at the Alma Mater in Bologna), I admire Rosenboim’s style and her ability to deliver information without ever expressing any form of judgement. On a personal note, I have recently read several books that treat food as the protagonist of a story, and as a means to express love, family history and, most importantly, identity. I feel that this memoir is certainly one of the best books I have read on the subject, and I can’t wait to try some of the numerous recipes listed in the book. The book cover is also fabulous, in my opinion, and it reflects the colours, the scents and the flavours of this enjoyable memoir.

•thanks to #netgalley for the #arc received in exchange for an honest review•

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was hooked by the cover and then enthrawlled by the context. Its quite unlike any other I have ever read: This book is constructed like a picture book. Long pages of text with the occasional coloured plate that brings the story to life. These images are figurative and presented by way of recipes. This book will appeal to someone who reads cook books in bed, likes history and travel writing.

The author is inspired by diaries from her elder relatives. They’re translated and they tell of stories from the past, travelling in cultures, brining with them the taste of home and the changing flavours as new families migrate to new places.

The first chapters follow a bilingual man with the strong name of Zion, making his way in the world and growing away from the pressure of an oppressive father figure. Stories of food on the move pepper this story and bring to mind flavours and textures which are jewels in an otherwise tedious treck along a landscape.

From the outbreak of war, we follow Hananya, Zion’s son, a founder of a community food bank ensuring everyone in the cooperative had enough to eat with the back drop of other hungry residents, gangs and thieves raiding houses and shops for food. It was a war of nutrition as much as a war of attrition. These political activities eventually ended with an arrest and time in prison and two versions of escape attempts. My favourite the one of his mother dressing as a man, travelling to the prison and bribing a guard for his release. I’ll leave the other for you to discover.

The brutal dystopian reality of fleeing war on the road, a trial of cart and horse, living on cabbage soup and stale bread with the constant threat of death from the skies stays with the reader. To preserve their independence they made a journey under this strain for 3 months.

Following the end of the war, the book explores the long wait for displaced people to be allowed to settle. Their lives controlled by a rationing system, discouraged cooking in ones own home in favor of collective dining and anxieties about what food one consumes as being part of the new culture or not. The book moves quickly towards the end, showing the changing attitudes and reflections that food and culture is a history not to be forgotten.

This book is best summarised by one sentence, reflecting on the past in the present. “The scent of oranges and almonds lived only in her memory.”

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An endearing story about family and food. Loved all the recipes and family history. Although this might be a bit of a strange time for this kind of story, considering the state of the world.

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Or Rosenboim structures her book around three branches of her family tree, much of their history reflecting the turbulent events of the twentieth century. The Asheroffs were prosperous traders who travelled freely between Central Asia and Jerusalem until the Bolshevik revolution. The Efratis were also traders navigating the Ottoman Empire with ease until the rise of nationalism. The Adirims originated in Riga from which Rosenboim’s admirably resourceful sixteen-year-old grandmother escaped just in time, taking the last train into Russia with her family before the Nazis invaded. These three branches are brought together in Tel Aviv where they must forge a new life, some after suffering terrible loss and privation.
Rosenboim uses her male ancestors' memoirs together with the recipes passed down by the women, accommodated to suit their new surroundings while still redolent of home, as a way of piecing together their largely undocumented history. Many of her family recipes are scattered through her book, some sobering such as Cabbage Soup on the Road, made from a few scavenged cabbage leaves amongst other starving refugees, others celebratory and tempting. I’ve always seen migration as a positive thing: Rosenboim’s vibrant, absorbing book which draws on a rich family heritage illustrates this beautifully

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So excited to read, acquire,and share with readers this beautiful memoir. Will be sharing a full review and thoughts very soon after completion. I love the way food and tradition time back into family history and I just know this going to be a gorgeous read!

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