Book Review - The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer's Caregiver

By BJLIfe/Sharon Altshul
Posted on 11/03/19

The holidays are over. 

The cooking and cleaning up from large family gatherings, the aromas, and scents from Yom Tov meals are now memories. 

Food and recipes are important for families and links in tradition. When Miriam Green's mother Naomi Cohen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, cooking became a means to be together as Naomi's condition started to deteriorate.

In a weekly blog at which has appeared on the Alzheimer’s Association website,  Green features anecdotes about her mother’s Alzheimer’s and related recipes.  In her new book  The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer's Caregiver she weaves poetry, recipes, and anecdotes as she details her family’s struggle to maintain balance and laughter as her mother proceeds through the advancing stages of dementia.

Born in London, England, where Green's parents also grew up, she was two when they moved to the US. After living first in New Jersey, the family settled in Maryland, first in Rockville,  then in Bethesda. Involved in the Jewish community, her father served for many years on the Jewish Community Council.

After college, Green moved to Washington, DC, and joined Kesher Israel Congregation where she met and married her husband, before making aliyah in 1991, and moving to Beer Sheva.

Green related to  BJL, "I also remember the last Baltimore Jewish Festival at the Inner Harbor we attended and being delighted to discover a clip of our wedding playing as an advertisement at a stand that “our” wedding photographer had set up."

Every other year, the Greens would return to the States in the summer to visit family. "Our trips to Baltimore were legendary: the aquarium, the zoo, baseball games, the science museum. We’d often head to friends’ houses for Shabbat. One year, we spent Tisha B’av with friends who attended Shomrei Emunah on Greenspring Ave. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb gave one of the most inspirational drashas I have ever heard, calling on the congregation to make that Tisha B’av the last one outside of Israel. How proud I felt to have already answered that call."

An award-winning poet, with an MA in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University and a BA from Oberlin College, Green uses her writing skills as a release as anxiety levels increase for her mother and the involved and loving family. 

Naomi does not know about the book. As Miriam Green ends her story, they are taking life, "One meal at a time."

I found the Appendix filled with valuable information, including the early signs and symptoms to identify Alzheimer's.

Family recipes and original poems are interspersed in the text. The recipe index at the end of the book made finding a recipe simple. I even added a few to my holiday menus.

The list of Helpful Websites near the end of the book is a great resource for anyone seeking information on Alzheimer's.  

A list of books on the topic of Alzheimer's and Memory Loss includes Dear Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's Diary & Poems by Esther Altshul Helfgott. While reading Miriam Green's account of dealing with her mother's progression with Alzheimer's I was constantly reminded of cousin Esther and her dear husband Abe's z"l valiant battle with the disease. 

Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans, most of them age 65 or older, may have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.

The Lost Kitchen

ISBN 9781644370810 

Published by Black Opal Books