National Dish

Anya Von Bremzen


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Pushkin Press
7 September 2023
ISBN: 9781911590880
352 pages

From the publisher


This voyage into culinary myth-making is essential reading… I couldn’t love it more! Nigella Lawson

A truly captivating and evocative book. National Dish takes you on a food journey written with real warmth, wit and perception’ Dan Saladino

A sparklingly intelligent examination of, and a meditation on, the interplay of cooking and identity‘ Spectator


In National Dish, award-winning food writer Anya von Bremzen sets out to investigate the eternal cliché that “we are what we eat”. Her journey takes her from Paris to Tokyo, from Seville, Oaxaca and Naples to Istanbul. She probes the decline of France’s pot-au-feu in the age of globalisation, the stratospheric rise of ramen, the legend of pizza, the postcolonial paradoxes of Mexico’s mole, the community essence of tapas, and the complex legacy of multiculturalism in a meze feast. Finally she returns to her home in Queens, New York, for a bowl of Ukrainian borscht -a dish which has never felt more loaded, or more precious.

As each nation’s social and political identity is explored, so too is its palate. Rich in research, colourful? characters and lively wit, National Dish peels back the layers of myth and misunderstanding around world cuisines, reassessing the pivotal role of food in our cultural heritage and identity.

Featuring an epilogue on Ukrainian borscht, recently granted World Heritage status by UNESCO



So enlightening – as well as well so much fun to read… Von Bremzen is a superb describer of flavours and textures’ Bee Wilson Financial Times

A fast-paced, entertaining travelogue, peppered with compact history lessons that reveal the surprising ways dishes become iconic’ New York Times

Enchanting, fascinating, thought provoking and humorous‘ Claudia Roden

‘A playful, erudite and mouthwatering exploration of ideas around food and identity. With the help of a diverse group of characters and dishes, Anya von Bremzen highlights the intricacies and contradictions of our relationship with what we eat’ Fuschia Dunlop

‘Anya von Bremzen’s new book reads like an engrossing unputdownable novel about the perpetual soup of humanity’ Oli Hercules

‘An evocative, gorgeously layered exercise in place-making and cultural exploration…’Boston Globe

‘Von Bremzen’s knowledge is staggering and her writing witty, urgent and personal. I couldn’t put it down’ Diana Henry