Latvian Embassy Hosts Book Talk with Author Michaele Weissman

by Avery Robinson

This is reposted from the Latvian Embassy to the United States of America.

On March 27th, 2024 Ambassador Māris Selga welcomed Michaele Weissman, Maryland-based author of “The Rye Bread Marriage,” and an audience of rye bread lovers to the embassy for a book talk and reception. Weissman’s recently published memoir, “The Rye Bread Marriage,” explores the history and meaning rye bread in Latvia, while telling the story of her husband’s family’s flight from their homeland in 1944; and digging deep into the subject of long-term marriage.  (Born in the US, of Russian Jewish heritage, Weissman has been married for forty years to Latvian exile Janis Melngailis, a retired professor of electrical engineering, who is the co-founder Black Rooster Food, a small company marketing Latvian rye bread.) 

In dscussion with diplomat Sarma Gintere, Weissman, the author of three previous books, revealed she was bewildered by Latvian rye bread in the early years of her marriage. Not until her husband began importing rupjmaize from Latvia in the early aughts did she begin to appreciate this bread’s profound culinary and cultural value. Her desire to understand at a deeper level led to years of study and travel that resulted in her writing a highly personal memoir that is nonetheless steeped in Latvian history.

Among the audience were members of Latvian diaspora community, journalists, and development specialists concerned with food and food scarcity—writing “The Rye Bread Marriage,” triggered Weissman’s concern with the issue of hunger.  First to speak during the lively Q and A, Weissman’s stepdaughter Ilze Melngailis, a Senior Director at the United Nations Foundation who said her heritage and her father’s history as an exile had helped shape her international career and deep appreciation of the United Nations.  Other questions and remarks were more bread-focused.  Where, audience members wanted to know, could they taste (and purchase) this remarkable bread?

Guests didn’t have to wait long to taste Latvian rye bread.  The reception featured hors oeuvres on rye bread provided by Black Rooster Food, plus four flavors of Balsam’s, another of Latvia’s unique culinary products.

To learn more about Michaele Weissman:

Instagram @michaeleweissman

To order “The Rye Bread Marriage”: 

And to learn about Black Rooster Food’s rye bread: