Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

Our Rack: Cooking for Picasso; Mother-Nanny Relations

What’s on ‘Our Rack’:

NONFICTION

“97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement” (Smithsonian) by Jane Ziegelman looks at the eating habits of five immigrant families living in New York’s Lower East Side between 1863 and 1935. Relying on census date, cookbooks from the era and newspaper clippings, Ziegelman chronicles the lives of the families — who are Irish, Italian, German, Russian Jews and German Jews — and how their respective cuisines evolved in their new homeland.


Harper Perennial has put out a new edition of “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook,” which was first issued in 1954. Toklas, most famously the companion of Gertrude Stein, wrote this cookbook in a casual narrative style and includes sections like “Dishes for Artists” and “Food in French Homes.” Stein and Toklas were part of France’s vibrant expat scene, which provided Toklas a chance to cook for friends such as Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso and Thornton Wilder.


In “After the Girls Club: How Teenaged Holocaust Survivors Built New Lives in America” (Lexington Books), women’s studies professor Carole Bell Ford has pieced together the life stories of a small group of orphaned teenagers who relocated to Brooklyn after surviving the Holocaust.


In “No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments,” (Crown) award-winning playwright Brooke Berman chronicles her life in New York, from her time as a bright-eyed 18 year-old, new to the city, and her subsequent yearnings for success, love, and better real estate. Berman’s writing is direct and funny, and looks at what it means to belong, to feel at home.


“Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour,” (Harper Perennial), a new memoir by writer and performer Rachel Shukert, recounts her days traveling through Europe in her twenties. Moving through Vienna, Amsterdam, and Zurich, Shukert describes with humor the hi-jinks and debauchery that paved her way to adulthood.


In Sloane Crosley’s new collection of essays, “How Did You Get This Number?” (Riverhead), she writes about topics such as traveling abroad on her own, dealing with an anorexic and kleptomaniacal roommate, and attending a wedding in Alaska. Crosley writes with humor and ease as we witness her let go of the illusions she held in her 20s, and move into the more humble territory of 30.


Save the Assistants, a popular blog dedicated to the glory and horror of assistant life, has now been expanded to a book by former Jewcy editor Lilit Marcus. “Save the Assistants: A Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the Workplace” (Hyperion) has advice on how to navigate office politics, as well as horror stories and celebrity assistant gossip that will likely put in perspective the work lives of many young assistants.


FICTION

Allegra Goodman tells the story of two sisters — one a successful businesswoman, and the other a philosophy student in “The Cookbook Collector” (Dial Press). Through storylines that deal with the stock market, environmentalism, book-collecting and technology, Goodman looks the ways that we create meaning in our lives and trust in our relationships.


“Red Hook Road,” (Doubleday) Ayelet Waldman’s new novel — read The Sisterhood’s Q&A with Waldman here — begins with the son of Jane Hewin, a taciturn cleaning woman, marrying the daughter of her employers. Set in a small town in Maine, the book follows the Copakens, a wealthy Jewish family from New York who come to the town yearly for vacation, and the Hewins, a hardscrabble local family, as they form an unlikely bond in the wake of a tragedy.


In E.M. Broner’s “The Red Squad” (Anchor), Anka Pappas discovers that during the 1960s, she and her fellow English graduate students were under surveillance for anti-war activities. Pappas recalls the time with her colleagues — a motley group that includes a friend that disappeared, another one that was obsessed with Israel, and a former priest — as she tries to figure out who among them was the rat. The book takes a good look at the idealism of the time, and the way it shaped individual lives.


“My Hollywood” (Knopf), Mona Simpson’s new novel, tells the stories of Claire, a composer and new mother who relocates to Santa Monica, and Lola, the middle-aged Filipina woman Claire hires to help take care of her son. Their stories appear in alternating chapters, working together to deliver both tender and wry insights about parenthood, marriage, and the role of nannies in the lives of upper-middle class women.


In “Fly Away Home,” (Atria) Jennifer Weiner’s latest novel, Sylvie Serfer, who dropped 20 pounds and straightened her hair to become Sylvie Serfer Woodruff, a politicians wife, must deal with the fallout when her husband publicly admits to an extramarital affair. Sylvie finds refuge in her daughters, Lizzia, a recovering addict, and Diana, a doctor stuck in a dull marriage.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.