Luisa Weiss: The Toast of Berlin
Luisa Weiss is the culinary force behind THE WEDNESDAY CHEF. For that blog, she tests recipes from newspapers’ food sections, often published on Wednesdays.
Her delightful cuisine-centric memoir MY BERLIN KITCHEN has received rave reviews.
Amanda Hesser, cofounder of Food52 and author of THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK , says:
“Luisa Weiss writes with grace and ease about her search for a sense of belonging in My Berlin Kitchen. That she also cooks appealing dishes and writes beautifully about food only adds dimension to her wonderful memoir. You will read with intense delight, cheering her on through heartbreak and triumphs.”
Recently, I caught up with Luisa for the following interview.
1) How would you compare and contrast the farmers’ markets in NYC and the ones in Berlin?
Farmer’s markets in NYC are fundamentally different from green markets in Berlin. In New York, farmers are always the vendors at the markets, while in Berlin, it is a mix of, largely, produce wholesalers with a few farms thrown in. For hyper-local, seasonal food, a green market in New York will always beat the typical Berlin green market.
(Divine Brine’s pickle truck, on way to Union Square Greenmarket)
2) Harpers Bazaar Germany published a gorgeous photo of you in FrischeParadies in the Prenzlauer Berg. What can you tell us about that shoot, and FrischeParadies in general? (Note: FrischeParadies is German for Fresh Paradise).
FrischeParadies used to be a fishmonger in West Berlin, but over the past several decades, it has been transformed into a gourmet paradise that sells highest quality fish, meat, produce, cheese, wine and other items. They sell wholesale to many restaurants in Berlin (and other German cities), but are also available to the consumer. Their prices are high, so I only shop there for special occasions, like Christmas Eve, when I cook seafood for my family, but they’re a great resource for all kinds of things like crab, interesting green vegetables and high-quality frozen food.
The Harper’s Bazaar shoot was so much fun – the magazine delivered a whole bunch of nice clothes and accessories to my apartment one evening and then the next day, the whole fashion team showed up. Makeup artist, stylist, photographer, etc. We shot a lot at my home and in my kitchen, then trekked across town to FrischeParadies (there’s a location closer to my house, but it’s not as photogenic). It was winter, so cold outside, and the store was freezing and I was bare-legged in a pretty frock. I remember freezing during the shoot there! Luckily, they took pity on me and let me change into a warm cashmere sweater for the second part of the shoot.
3) You had an international upbringing; was it nonetheless exciting to see that your book MY BERLIN KITCHEN was translated from English into German?
Every translation has been a thrill. It’s wonderful knowing that my book has touched people in more than just “my” two countries – America and Germany.
4) When I was little, my Oma made scrumptious, fragrant Pflaumkuchen. Do you have any special Pflaumkuchen memories – or recipe tips – to share with us?
Try to use fresh yeast if at all possible, it makes for a much nicer, pillowy dough than instant or active dry yeast. And you must, must, must use Italian prune plums – not regular round plums, (which are also known as Santa Rosa plums).
5) I loved your blog post about Gegessen wird immer — the gourmet grocery that delivers in Berlin. (Note: Gegessen wird immer can be translated as “People are always eating.”)
Is it also true that Gescrieben wird immer, that people are always writing? What are you working on these days?
I just finished my book CLASSIC GERMAN BAKING, which will be published by Ten Speed Press this October. This book will include over 100 recipes for classic German favorites like Pflaumenkuchen, Zimtsterne and so much more.
You’ll find her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wednesdaychef/
And on Twitter here.
(Photo from Luisa Weiss)
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