Falling Cloudberries

Tessa Kiros, daughter of a Finnish mother and a Greek Cypriot father, recounts the various flavors of her childhood and adult life (Finland, Greece, South Africa, Italy and beyond). Stories are interwoven into the simple yet delicious recipes and sprinkled with vintage family photographs and luminous photos that highlight the character of the faces and places that make these recipes memorable.

Falling Cloudberries opens with a pencil sketch of Tessa’s family tree, complete with a Russian great-great-grandmother, her mother’s Finnish relatives, and Tessa’s Italian husband. The first chapter is dedicated to Finnish comfort foods such as marinated herrings, smoked salmon, Finnish meatballs with lingonberry jam, and cinnamon and cardamom buns. From Greece we have dolmades, baklava, tzatziki, avgolemono, octopus, and numerous lamb and seafood dishes. Cyprus is the most Middle Eastern of the cuisines, featuring airani (a chilled yogurt drink), grilled haloumi, hummus, lachmajou, tabouli, and koupes.

The chapter on South Africa is a mix of culinary influences that feels right at home in the United States: garlic bread, chicken wings with blue cheese dressing, barbecue, and carrot cake. Italy offers a divine champagne risotto, several pastas, and numerous elegant salads. The final chapter, A Suitcase of Recipes, features influences from farther abroad, including Thailand, Peru, and Morocco.

Tessa’s style, both in the memoirs and the recipes themselves, is simple yet elegant. The ingredients and steps are clearly laid out, making Falling Cloudberries approachable even for beginning cooks. Most of the Greek and Italian ingredients should be fairly easy to find in any large supermarket (if you’re lucky enough to have a Middle Eastern market in your city, you should be able to find rose water, haloumi and semolina (NOT semolina flour, but sameed, the cracked wheat used in basboosah).

There’s a beautiful amount of variety in the endless possibility of mix-and-match dinners borrowing from different regions, or you could plan a theme party (a Finnish dinner, or a Greek one). Vegetarians will find numerous tasty recipes for cold salads (such as the chickpea and feta salad), baked dishes, as well as numerous potato preparations (the stuffed vegetables call for ground meat, but you could substitute rice). I loved the light, elegant desserts in particular, from flaky filo recipes for baklava and bougatsa to elegant shortcakes, chocolate truffle cake and creme caramel. This is a beautiful cookbook with a wealth of recipes that will appeal to cooks of all levels.

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