Remembrance of Meals Past by Anita Legsdin is a book that contains meaningful and heartwarming tales like a full course meal with different side dishes served at your favorite restaurants. It is an anthology of short stories that talks about food, love, and memories.
What sets this book apart from other anthologies is its way of connecting the author’s experiences with food. Most of the tales are based on real events while there are only a few that are completely a product of the author’s imagination. According to Legsdin, “The stories in this collection, with a few exceptions, all are based on events from my life. Names have been changed, and fictional events added, to conceal and protect identities.” Hence, this book has its unique and heartwarming way of connecting to the readers because most of the dishes and events mentioned in the tales can also be found or happen in real life.
Additionally, Remembrance of Meals Past is how it enables every story to feature a particular food. Cheesecake, paella, sautéed boletus, pasta, piragi, and lamb are some of the amazing dishes that played great parts in every tale. The showing of Latvian culture is also a great way of connecting to readers because the author didn’t directly tell her patrons about her heritage but she showed them some aspects of it instead. The readers will surely have fun reading every tale because their imagination will not only focus on the activities of the characters but also on the rich food and culture that are mentioned.
There are also other brilliant things to keep an eye on in this book. When it comes to the structure, how the stories are told in a different point of views stand out. The first tale, The Cheesecake Wars, is told in the first person and is a narrative. The following tale The Paella Prototype, on the contrary, is using third person omniscient as the point of view and contains multiple dialogues. Apart from that, the stories of the book contain different literary devices, such as flashbacks which can be seen on A Good Year for Apples.
After the short stories, there are some recipes that the author has included. These are the Cheesecake, Paella, Pasta, Sautéed Boletus, Dough for Latvian Sheet Bread, Apple Sheet Bread, Latvian Cheesecake, Paskha, Leg of Lamb, Latvian Sauerkraut, Meatloaf, and Shepherd’s Pie. They are connected to every tale, which is really a great aspect because they don’t only satisfy the readers’ imagination but also their cravings. However, the inclusion of these materials might create confusion for the readers because they might mistake it as a cookbook instead of food fiction. Good thing that these recipes are placed at the end of the tales because it appears like a present — the recipes, inside a present — the book, which can make the patrons giddy and delighted.
Since the key points are already reviewed, this leaves us to answer the million dollars’ worth question: do you recommend the book of Anita Legsdin? YES. Remembrance of Meal’s Past is a Readersmagnet approve! For an anthology, it contains the exact number of short stories — which is not too much and too few. This will not bore the readers because every tale varies. There is no connection from them aside from their way of connecting the stories to the food and Latvian culture. Hence, readers will definitely see some variation and will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot for purchasing a book with multiple amazing stories plus recipes. But watch out for the genre, for it is definitely fiction and NOT a cookbook just because it has recipes!