A gorgeous, full-color illustrated cookbook and personal cultural history, filled with 100 mouthwatering recipes from around the world, that celebrates the culinary traditions of strong, empowering immigrant women and the remarkable diversity that is American food.
As a child of Italian immigrants, Anna Francese Gass grew up eating her mother’s Calabrian cooking. But when this professional cook realized she had no clue how to make her family’s beloved meatballs—a recipe that existed only in her mother’s memory—Anna embarked on a project to record and preserve her mother’s recipes for generations to come.
In addition to her recipes, Anna’s mother shared stories from her time in Italy that her daughter had never heard before, intriguing tales that whetted Anna’s appetite to learn more. Reaching out to her friends whose mothers were also immigrants, Anna began cooking with dozens of women who were eager to share their unique memories and the foods of their homelands.
In Heirloom Kitchen, Anna brings together the stories and dishes of forty-five strong, exceptional women, all immigrants to the United States, whose heirloom recipes have helped shape the landscape of American food. Organized by region, the 100 tantalizing recipes include:
- Magda’s Pork Adobo from the Phillippines
- Shari’s Fersenjoon, a walnut and pomegranate stew, from Iran
- Tina’s dumplings from Northern China
- Anna’s mother’s Calabrian Meatballs from Southern Italy
In addition to the dishes, these women share their recollections of coming to America, stories of hardship and happiness that illuminate the power of food—how cooking became a comfort and a respite in a new land for these women, as well as a tether to their native cultural identities.
Accented with 175 photographs, including food shots, old family photographs, and ephemera of the cooks’ first years in America—such as Soon Sun’s recipe book pristinely handwritten in Korean or Bea’s cherished silver pitcher, a final gift from her own mother before leaving Serbia—Heirloom Kitchen is a testament to empowerment and strength, perseverance and inclusivity, and a warm and inspiring reminder that the story of immigrant food is, at its core, a story of American food.
Anna Francese Gass is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and is the head recipe tester for Food52. After a stint in corporate sales, she traded the boardroom for the kitchen and has worked for Whole Foods, Martha Stewart Living, Mad Hungry, and Sarah’s Weeknight Meals on PBS.
She has also worked on all of Food52’s published cookbooks and contributed original recipes to the recently published Food52 cookbook A New Way to Dinner. She lives in New Canaan, Connecticut.