The Rye Bread Marriage

The Rye Bread Marriage is a memoir/culinary history about rye bread, telling the story of 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 the author to tell her husband’s dramatic family story and her own Jewish American story. 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 at the University of Maryland, he is the owner of Black Rooster Food, a small company marketing Latvian rye bread.  All four of Michaele and John’s small grandchildren cut their teeth on Latvian Rye Bread.

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

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


“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 and admissions consultant

“This book is a love letter, one that explores relationships and marriage. It’s a book about the history and the beauty of bread. But most important it is a courageous book about the complexity of love.”

—MARK FURSTENBERG, the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker of 2017 and owner of Bread Furst Bakery

 “What is marriage? is a question asked and answered throughout this engaging, thoughtful, and compassionate memoir. The Rye Bread Marriage is a wonderful read.”

—ELIZABETH POLINER, author of As Close to Us as Breathing

“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 

“A captivating memoir. At once honest, relatable, and endearing. Michaele Weissman affirms that we are all more connected than we think. With a little bit of humor and a lot of grace, Weissman makes the case that marriage is an emotional continuum, and love is just one end of it.”

—PATI JINICH, New York Times bestselling cookbook author and host and executive producer of PBS’s La Frontera and Pati’s Mexican Table 

“Weissman’s striking reverence, her bold humility, and her compassion for her brilliant and traumatized Latvian husband as she unearths his compulsion for his home country’s bread make this tale of food and love and life and war soar. 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