A Memoir
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 International restaurateur Lang takes stock of his life's path from small-town Hungary to the summits of world dining--and has fun along the way. Lang (The Cuisine of Hungary) was involved in the creation of the Tower Suite in the Time-Life building in New York City, the Indian Pavilion theater-restaurant at the New York World's Fair, and, more recently, the reopening of the CafÇ des Artistes on Manhattan's West Side. He recalls warmly that his family believed in the sacredness of food and music: ``Bread was almost as important to us as air, water, life itself.'' Lang takes no small pride in his many accomplishments, and his cheerfulness is interrupted only in recounting the inferno of his Jewish family's wartime experience: After kissing his parents good-bye at a railway station in February 1944, at age 19--he would never see them again, later learning they perished at Auschwitz--he spent time in a forced labor camp. Later, Lang and a friend managed to survive in wartime Budapest by presenting themselves as Transylvanians. Out of desperation, they joined the fascist Arrowcross militia but used their influence to aid the city's Jews. After Budapest's liberation, Lang was wrongly imprisoned for a period as a fascist. Finally immigrating to New York City, he began waiting tables in 1946, working his way into management jobs at the Waldorf-Astoria and the Four Seasons. In the uncreative US food climate of the '50s, Lang was an innovator, exploring ethnic foods of various cultures while always insisting on the freshest seasonal ingredients. He joyously depicts the members of his social circle, which has included such luminaries as James Beard and Luciano Pavarotti, and offers a selection of favorite recipes. Lang's wartime experiences were horrifying, but his book is mainly a lighthearted celebration of good friends, good food, and the good life he's found in the culinary world. (40 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-45094-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1998