The title, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, by Alina Bronsky refers to the Tartar ethnic background of the characters and hints at the story line. Rosa Achmetowna, the narrator, is the most irritating character you will come across in a long time. But, without her, this book would be a shell of itself not worthy of reading.
When Rosa discovers that her 17 year old daughter, ‘stupid Sulfia’ is pregnant but can not name the father, she does everything within her power to ensure that the birth does not take place. But, in spite of her intercession, months later, Sulfia delivers a beautiful daughter named Aminat who becomes the apple of Rosa’s eyes.
Rosa has made it her life’s mission to control the lives of her ‘good for nothing’ husband Kalganow and her daughter Sulfia and now she must also look out for the welfare of her grandchild. But soon, her attempts at manipulating their lives spiral out of control. When her daughter crosses paths with a German cookbook author, Rosa believes this is her last chance to move her daughter and granddaughter out of Russia to a better life in a Western country. How she works the situation may make you laugh until you are filled with disgust and then sympathy for the way the story unfolds.
In this charming but disturbing book, the narrator will draw you in with her steel-clad, outrageous opinions and her can do attitude. You may not like the characters or the situations they find themselves in, but believe me, you won’t easily forget them.