Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food & Love in Thirteen Courses
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If food is the universal language of love, sobremesa is the romance. Gather around the table with C-level career woman turned foodpreneur, Josephine Caminos Oría, as she cooks up a magical tale, told morsel by morsel, of some of her most memorable tableside chats—sobremesas—that provided the first-generationArgentine-American the courage to leave the safe life she knew and start over from scratch.
In her coming-of-age adventure, Josephine travels to her family’s homeland of Argentina in search of belonging—to family, to country, to a lover, and ultimately, to oneself. Steeped in the lure of Latin culture, she pieces together her mom and abuela’s pasts, along with the nourishing dishes—delectably and spiritually—that formed their kitchen arsenal. But Josephine’s travels from las pampas to the prairie aren’t easy or conventional. She grapples with mystical encounters with the spirit world that lead her to discover a part of herself that, like sobremesa, had been lost in translation. Just as she’s ready to give up on love all together, Josephine’s own heart surprises her by surrendering to a forbidden, transcontinental tryst with the Argentine man of her dreams. To stay together, she must make a difficult choice: return to the safe life she knows in the States, or follow her heart and craft a completely different kind of future for herself—one she never saw coming.
This other worldly, multigenerational story of a daughter’s love and familial culinary legacy serves up, in 13 courses, the timeless traditions that help Josephine navigate transformational love and loss. It’s a reminder that that home really is anywhere the heart is. Sobremesa invites you to linger at the table, reveal your own hidden truths and savor the healing embrace of time honored food and the wisdom it espouses.
Foreword by Sofía Pescarmona, CEO and Owner, Lagarde Winery.
“Sobremesa takes us inside Josephine’s kitchen where we get the chance to explore her unique culinary journey and her beloved Argentina. Josephine’s story tells us about a side of Argentine cuisine and eating culture that isn’t usually written about: the importance that family, friendship, delicious food, and vino have at the table. A delight to read that will warm your corazón.”—Allie Lazar, Argentina-Based Freelance Eater and Writer, Creator of Pick Up the Fork Food Blog
“As a young girl, I enjoyed Josephine. But even more, I have loved meeting Josefina. I found myself transported to extraordinary middle places: Argentina and the United States, the ghostly limbos between life and death, youth and adulthood. Sobremesa reads like a cross between magical realism and the food section of the New York Times. Delicioso!”—Beth Ostrosky-Stern, Pittsburgh Native and New York Times Bestselling Author
“At once a magical matrilineage, recipe book, and love letter to Argentinian culture, Josephine’s Sombremesa is not only a moving culinary memoir, but a timely cultural portrait and call to return to a slower, more sensual relationship with our loved ones and ourselves.”—Allie Rowbottom, author of Jell-O Girls
“Josephine didn’t just find a love for Argentina, reconnecting with her family’s past and heirloom recipes. She’s uncovered a sisterhood in sobremesa, and wants to extend it to those who still don’t know about it or who don’t yet know they just might need it most. Because it’s there, in the intimacy of our own kitchens that we join forces, connecting in the place that, for so many people and families, is a meeting point, a place where culture lives on and transforms itself.”—Sofía Pescarmona, Entrepreneur and Viticulturist, CEO and Owner, Lagarde Winery and Fogón Restaurant in Mendoza Argentina
I wrote Sobremesa for three reasons.
First, if I’ve learned anything about love, it’s that you can’t give up on it. It will find you, on its own terms. Second, because I believe there are signs everywhere. We just have to stay open to receiving them, and trust ourselves enough to know their meaning. The final reason is that even though this is my story, I hope some part of it is yours too—maybe you have your own abuela Dorita whose spirit comes alive in these pages, or, like me, you are bicultural, Argentine, possibly even from the ‘Burgh; perhaps you’re in the midst of taking a chance on a second act (whether it be in love or professionally), or quite possibly you’re simply looking to take your seat at sobremesa’s endless table, where there’s always room for one more. Because, as they say in Argentina, donde comen dos, comen tres.
From my kitchen to yours, ¡Buen Provecho!
Born in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Josephine Caminos Oría was raised Stateside from infancy on in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gathering around a table large enough to sit her family of eight, plus two for her abuelos on her mom’s side, food and the sobremesa that accompanied it, was how Josephine learned to make sense of the world. Stories of where she came from, and the people she’d left behind, were served to Josephine during family sobremesas she savored like meals. Those tales nourished Josephine’s imagination and sense of self, setting the table for Josephine’s second act—a family and professional life focused around Argentine food and culture. It was in her early 40s, with five young children in tow, that Josephine took a chance on herself, leaving a C-level career to make dulce de leche. Today, Josephine, along with her Argentine husband, Gastón, is the founder of La Dorita Cooks, an all-natural line of dulce de leche products and Pittsburgh’s first resource-based kitchen incubator for start-up and early stage food makers (see www.ladorita.net for more information). In addition, Josephine is the author of the cookbook as food-memoir, “Dulce de Leche: Recipes, Stories, and Sweet Traditions” (Burgess Lea Press, February 2017).