Josephine Caminos Oría’s memoir Sobremesa is warm and nourishing, covering family, food, love, and heritage. It is also a romantic, bicultural coming-of-age story with a touch of magical realism.
When Oría, a first-generation Argentine American from Pittsburgh who felt torn between two countries and cultures, traveled to her family’s homeland, she expected to unearth some family secrets. What she did not expect was to find her true home in the arms of Gastón, the young man charged with managing the family’s estancia. Surprised by love, she learned that the world can tilt on its axis from one moment to the next, demanding choices and commitments that shape the course of the future. Also unexpected, but welcome, were the visits of the ghost of an elderly man who appeared to be watching over her.
Here, Argentina is presented as a passionate and exuberant place—a country of tango, full-bodied Andean Malbecs, asado (Argentine barbecue), vast open plains, and hard-muscled gauchos who can eat, drink, and play hard after a day of wrangling livestock. And the Argentine sobremesa is presented as much more than a meal. It’s a gathering of family and friends that lasts for hours, and that meets two essential human needs: to be fed, and to belong. Engaging it requires being fully present with others, and lingering at the table long after the food is gone. Central to Oría’s personal discoveries were her family’s culinary secrets—an alchemy of love, passed down through generations of women. The dishes shared in her book beg to be tried.
The memoir Sobremesa is a reminder of a slower time, an exuberant, passionate place, and love as vast as the Argentine pampas.
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