By Diane Leach | July 8, 2015
Chef Nora Pouillon earned the first organic restaurant certification in the United States. Her memoir, My Organic Life, leads readers from her early years in postwar Vienna to her role in the American organic food movement.
Co-written with Laura Fraser, My Organic Life staggers a bit before finding its rhythm. After a rocky start, we learn that Pouillon’s family were avid outdoorspeople, passionate about exercise and healthy diet. The family spent a great deal of time on their farm, just outside Vienna. There on-site caretakers Nanni and Alois grew all their own food, composted, baked and made their own soap. Everything that could be used or reused was, including human waste. Pouillon lovingly describes home-made cream, corn mush, and a sourdough bread that took all day to bake.
Pouillon’s interest in food began early. Besides hanging out in Nanni’s kitchen, she watched her grandmother, Omi, kill chickens neatly and carefully before using every bit of the bird. The tongue and comb went into an omelet; the feet, gizzards, and neck went into the stockpot. Pouillon’s mother, Mutti, was also a fine cook. Avoiding Vienna’s traditionally heavy cooking, Mutti served crisp Wiener schnitzel, light potato salads, and delicately cooked green salads with thin béchamel sauces.
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