Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

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Michelle Togut

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, contributor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I enjoyed the mayonnaise out of this post. I might not like Salat Olivier were it served to me (beets and canned peas in mayonnaise? Color me dubious.) but it seems to have powered a nation the way grilled cheese sandwiches power America.

    What resonates for me, an American whose vision of Soviet Russia was that of a land where millions starved amidst massive potential for plenty, is the fact that millions of people did find food to eat, most every day. The cookbook offers that proletarian’s-eye-level understanding of this. It disabuses my prejudice that the long food lines and bitter winters meant poverty for the unfortunate Soviet people: they were not poor, Russia is a nation of plenty and abundance. People ate, corrupt and misguided economic planning and abyssal infrastructure notwithstanding.

    The marvel, then, is what they could have done, what they could have become, had they only figured out how to use the wealth of their land.Report

  2. Avatar Atomic Geography
    Ignored
    says:

    Beautiful piece.

    I assume that next to the Salat Olivier would be a platter of wry bread.

    I would though amend the “Stuffed cabbage – Russian soul food” to “Eastern European soul food”

    My mother was widely credited with making the best gwumpkies any one tasted – that is, by her mother, all her sisters and sisters-in law. The men knew better than to offer any ranking, limiting themselves to “Delicious!”. Even my college friend whose parents were Polish Jews and thought all the food I thought of as Polish as Jewish thought so. She made them in a big pot on top of the stove rather than a baking dish. I’m sure yours are wonderful! What time should we all be over?Report

  3. Avatar Joe Sal
    Ignored
    says:

    Excellent work Michelle.Report

  4. Avatar Robert Test
    Ignored
    says:

    Great story. I’m still laughing.

    First piece from this site I’ve shown to my wife. She’s now adding the site to her list of places to visit.
    Lastly, first piece on Ordinary Times I’ve commented on.

    Thank you for making us so happy this afternoon.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    This was a wonderful essay. There is an art book/cock book of Soviet Cookery out called the CCCP Cook Book that covers Soviet cooking in a less personal style. Many of the recipes look fascinating.

    I find that liking Reagan for being a strong determined leader whose actions led to the collapse of the Soviet Union/Communism and hating Gorbachev for being a weak indecisive leader whose in/actions led to the collapse of the Soviet Union/Communism to be mutually inconsistent positions.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the Gorby-Reagan dynamic either especially since most Soviet emigres rejoiced at the collapse of the USSR while simultaneously blaming Gorbachev for letting things fall apart. Go figure.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Okay, a part of me now wants to do a Combined Community Codec Pack Cookbook…
      (as soon as I figure out how to code and decode it… maybe it instructs robots?)Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    LeeEsq: There is an art book/cock book of Soviet Cookery out…

    “My God, Don’t get undressed- ITS A COOKBOOK!”
    Report

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