From the author "a memoir with recipes based upon family documents my mother left me in a little black suitcase I discovered after her death in 2017. The suitcase contained my great-grandfather’s journal chronicling the advance of the Germans in Le Grand Est (formerly Alsace/Lorraine) between April and December 1940, and two little notebooks written in my great-grandmother’s hand, listing about 65 family recipes, translated from the French, tested, and photographed. Bitter Sweet takes place in and around Nancy and Châlons-sur-Marne, today renamed Châlons-en-Champagne, my mother’s birthplace"
PART 1: Excerpt from the Preface: “I’d never come across another suitcase quite like it. But what was the tattered black leather valise doing there, hidden behind a crocheted comforter on the top shelf of my late mother’s closet?… A label lying on top of a cache of sundry photos and documents took my breath away. Written in my grandfather’s hand, it read: Les Archives Complètes des Familles Lévy-Neymark…. Blanche’s portrait partially hid a pocket-size doctor’s notebook, a gift from a Parisian medical laboratory, titled Carnet Médical 1936, listing close to 100 family recipes. Below it, lay Dr. Prosper Levy-Neymarck’s journal chronicling the advance of the Germans on Alsace Lorraine in 1940…”
PART 2: Excerpt from Prosper’s journal:
9 May 1940
French troops have swept into Nancy. The city has come to life. There is a run on boutiques and grocery stores, especially those selling fine wines and aperitifs. Tailors display their finest military uniforms, at prices that scare off veterans of 1914-1918, whose entire monthly earnings could not begin to cover the cost of a sous-lieutenant’s tunic. Our officers waste gasoline driving aimlessly around town and fall asleep in the shadow of the Maginot Line.
Part 3: Blanche’s Recipes:
More than 65 recipes, many of them illustrated with professional food photography, From New Year’s Eve Endive Salad, Ham-Wrapped Belgian Endives, Cherry Clafoutis, Blanche’s Carrot Cake, Plum Tart, Yule Log, to an Alsatian Zimmetkuchen.