Picks and Pans Review: In Memory's Kitchen: a Legacy from the Women of Terezin

UPDATED 12/02/1996 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/02/1996 at 01:00 AM EST

Edited by Cam de Silva

On the face of it, the notion of a cookbook compiled by women bound for Auschwitz sounds macabre at the very least. In fact the ghetto where the authors of this book were interned on their way to that death camp was uniquely horrific: A decoy for Red Cross observers, Terezín was home to 144,000 "prominents"—Jewish painters, writers, performers and intellectuals. Behind its civilized facade, they lived in conditions so brutal that 33,000 people never made it to Auschwitz, some 40 miles away.

Astonishingly, Terezín's captives established a vital intellectual climate. They gave lectures, staged operas and educated children who were destined for the gas chamber. Mina Pächter, a grandmother and art historian, did her part by preserving shards of their domestic tradition. Famished, she and her friends talked obsessively about food—arguing about the proper way to make a Schnecken or a Linzer torte.

As a legacy for her daughter Anny Stern (then living in Palestine), Pächter set down family recipes and urged others to do the same. Written in faint script on scraps bound with thread, the sketchy directions for Central European dishes including cherry-plum dumplings and goose neck stuffed with farina ("a good supper," noted the author) were smuggled out before malnutrition claimed Pächter in 1944.

Twenty-five years later they reached Anny through a series of caretakers and, last year, found a publisher. The work of women whose memories were distorted by starvation, the book born in Terezín is both intimate and disturbing—a poignant reminder of a lost world and a spirit that refused to die. (Aronson, $25)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters