“…Michaele Weissman has written a beautiful love letter celebrating her four-decade marriage to her husband, a Latvian refugee who she did not fully understand until she understood his bread…”

Francis Lam, host of the Splendid Table podcast

“I loved this book….It made me laugh and at the end, it brought tears to my eyes…”

Zibby Owens, host of the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast

“A charming, insightful meditation on the intersection of love, family, and food.”

Kirkus Reviews

“I just finished reading The Rye Bread Marriage, and I want to shower you with rose petals. What a great memoir—not just because you delved so deeply into the rye bread we Latvians love, and not just because you made such a sustained song of marriage. But also—and for me this is high praise—because you really nailed it in terms of writing about Latvian history and culture, simplifying complexities, being critical yet loving and thoughtful. I actually recognized the culture you are describing. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

Banuta Rubess, theater artist, author, Rhodes scholar with a Phd in history

“The prevailing tone is light, but Weissman doesn’t shy away from serious topics, including John’s trauma as a WWII refugee…the result is a witty celebration of marriage that’s sure to resonate.”

Publisher’s Weekly

The Rye Bread Marriage

By Michaele Weissman

The Rye Bread Marriage is a memoir/culinary history about rye bread and a marriage that unites two very different people, both with roots in rye-bread-loving Eastern Europe.  Rye bread is the subject of the book and it is a lens enabling author Michaele Weissman to look at her husband’s dramatic family story and her own. Her husband, John Melngailis fled his native Latvia with his family as a child to escape Stalin’s takeover of his homeland. A retired professor of electrical engineering, he is the owner of Black Rooster Food, a small company marketing Latvian rye bread.

Both funny and wise, The Rye Bread Marriage explores deep and confounding subjects with a light touch.

“This voicey, often funny memoir is comprised of 125 chapters of varying length, some just a page, some even shorter. Here’s the entirety of chapter 41, “Marriage: Second Definition”: “Marriage: An intimate relationship existing on a continuum between love and hate, with partners perpetually suspended between the two.” Some of the chapters form short, lyrical essays; some are more journalistic. The memoir really shines when Weissman recounts research visits to Latvia and Germany… that led her to a deeper understanding of MeIngailis’ family history and the trauma of war and exile, as well as Latvian history and its unique bread.”


“This is a superbly researched and very well written exploration of interfaith/intercultural marriage, largely told through the lens of Latvian rye bread.”

—Lisa Cynamon Mayers, co-chair of the Mandel JCC Cleveland Jewish Book Festival

“Beautiful. Michaele Weissman takes us on a magical journey across continents and time, and I doubt there is a couple who won’t see themselves in the story of this marriage. The trail of rye bread crumbs (real and symbolic) led me to an emotional glimpse of the impact of love, war, and fear on our humanity and who we become.”

Liz Neumark, CEO and founder of Great Performances Catering and author of Sylvia’s Table

“I closed the last pages with tears in my eyes for the gift of these complex histories, this compelling love story—and a determination to find the best rye bread in town.”

Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of Book of the Little Axe

Michaele Weissman speaking at a book event hosted by Washington, D.C.’s beloved independent bookstore Politics & Prose. To watch the full video, click here.

Meet Michaele

The Rye Bread Marriage is a food and family memoir exploring the roots of her husband’s obsession with Latvian rye bread, his wartime childhood, and the universal complexities of marriage.

Read Michaele’s recent articles, “The Memoir That Found Me: Michaele Weissman on Food, Marriage, and Identity” for LitHub and “Rye Bread Is My Secret to a Happy Marriage“ for The Nosher. Listen to her chat with food writer Francis Lam on The Splendid Table’s podcast and with Zibby Owens on the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast.

To stay up to date, follow Michaele on Instagram.