Born in Italy, Anna Francese Gass came to the United States as a young child and grew up eating her mother’s Italian cooking. But when this professional cook realized she did not know 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 not only her mother’s recipes, but the recipes of several immigrant women, for generations to come.
Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women by Anna Francese Gass is 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. In Heirloom Kitchen, Anna shares the stories and recipes of 45 strong, exceptional women who immigrated to the United States, and whose family recipes helped shaped the landscape of American food. Organized by region, readers will enjoy Magda's meltingly delicious Pork Adobo from the Philippines; soak in the warmth of Shari's Fesenjoon, an Iranian walnut and pomegranate stew; learn to deftly seal pleat-perfect Northern Chinese dumplings with Tina; and yes, sink their teeth into Anna's mother's perfectly seasoned Calabrian Meatballs from Southern Italy.
Along with these recipes are stories: recollections of a journey to America, of hardship and happiness, and of many nights by the stove using food as a comfort and a respite in a new land, a culinary tether to their cultural identities. Accented with photographs, including food shots, old family photographs, and ephemera of the cooks’ first years in America—such as Soon’s recipe book pristinely handwritten in Korean or the measuring cup Anke tucked into her suitcase before leaving Germany—Heirloom Kitchen is a testament to female empowerment and strength, perseverance, diversity, and inclusivity. It is a warm and inspiring reminder that the story of immigrant food is, at its core, a story of America.
Anna Francese Gass is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. After a stint in corporate sales, she traded the boardroom for the test kitchen, and has since worked for Whole Foods, Mad Hungry, and Martha Stewart Living Ominmedia. Currently, she is a regular contributing editor at Food52 and contributing writer for msn.com. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children.
Joanna Sciarrino is the Executive Editor of Food52, where she oversees all content. Prior to Food52, she was the managing editor of award-winning food quarterly Lucky Peach and an editor at Bon Appetit.