From The Chef
Number of pages: 264
Printing: Newcomers-Authors Publishing Group
Autor: Shimon Garber
Editor: Vladimir Belinker
Writing about Russian cuisine on one side is simple, and on the other, there is nothing special of a long tradition can be inherited and preserved culinary traditions. The first printed culinary recipes book appeared in Russia in the 19th century. At the time, a society divided in a meaningful manner. Socially inequality existed, to the people rich and poor, and both it seemed lived in different worlds.
The nobles society preferred German, French, Dutch, or some other cuisine. The poor ones used what was available in their mature vegetable gardens or collected in nature.
The generous nature of the vast country of Russia was rich in excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. In winter, large logs of frozen fishes’ species, including beluga, sturgeon, and sevruga has taken to the imperial capital on a sled wrapped in matting — expensive black caviar delivered in wooden casks. “Pausanias ikra,” which means pressed caviar of sturgeon breeds, is considered by many an excellent but costly product. From the north red salmon, lamprey, smelt, and vendace carried. From Astrakhan came the famous herring called "zalom," with broad backs. Crabs, redfish, and red caviar came from the eastern outskirts of the country.
Nobles and landlords hunted with dogs in their forests. Bears, wild boars, elks, hares, grouse, partridges and a lot of other game and poultry diversified the chic tables of nobles. French, German, and Dutch cooks were valued highly and worked in the kitchens of wealthy individuals.
Serfdom peasants, slaves, ate what was allowed by their owners. The abolition of serfdom in Russia took place on March 3, 1861. Farmers stopped being sold and bought, but landowners still owned the land.
Among the few culinary books in Russia, was published in 1864 by Elena Molohovez "to help young housewives." This book survived numerous reprints. In the late 1890s, culinary books of P. Alexandrova-Ignatiev and N. Kolomitcev published.
During almost the entire 20th century, Russia experienced the horrors of the First World War. Then came the Bolshevik Coup, Civil War, and the Second World War. Famine, devastation, terror, and destruction of the people and culture have irreparably harmed the history of this country. No culinary traditions could be saving those times. But they are preserved in the memory of those who survived in the grinder that transformed society, its culture, and ethnic cooking. Those dishes sound like a more of the fantasy, with a description of appetizers, lunches, and heavy meals. Miraculously many cookbooks survived or were taken out of the country.
At the end of the 19th century, the government allowed particular people to leave Russia, and the new knowledge about culinary culture poured into the country, threatening to turn over all the ideas of taste traditions. These delicacies of food and drinks, hitherto unknown, threatened to overturn the power of the authorities. Coca-Cola, Jamon, and Parmesan symbolized not just a desirable life but also did wide-open eyes to the stolen dream to live well. The authorities may not have realized the real threat from some culinary delights, but the coming of the internet splashed gasoline on a fire which expanded discontent. Freedom is a struggle for the rights of a person, including the right to eat, drink, wear fashionable clothes, and own beautiful things. The main idea was to live differently than the previous generations did. Once they discovered the differences, they would aspire to the newly desired lifestyle always.
The Recipe Collection, used for public catering enterprises, was published in 1955, including numerous reprints. It began with the word: Order. The standards of "culinary masterpieces," meaning all culinary recipes directed precisely for all types and categories of public catering enterprises throughout the vast country. From Vladivostok on the Far East to the Kaliningrad to the West part of the country, any product was expected to have the same taste and cost. Three years earlier, in 1952, a book came out about tasty, fancy, pompous food.
That "culinary masterpiece," which people called "Stalin's Cookbook," was incredibly popular. Many readers had, for the first time in their lives, discovered many new products and dishes that they’d never even heard about before. There were many jokes about the fact that reading those complicated recipes was challenging – some fainted from hunger while they tried to figure them out.
The truth spread behind such humor could get someone "into places not so distant," that is, they could receive a prison term.
The book received the most widespread recognition and was passed on by inheritance. The traditions of Russian culinary art, carried by some talented chefs. Those names were known and could be counted by the fingers on one hand. They worked in government kitchens and at international exhibitions, wherever and whenever the country did participate. They worked at some restaurants and hotels, specializing in serving tourists from foreign countries.
The so-called government "Dachas," where the invited VIP visitors of the country stayed, had their own fully equipped kitchens and banquet halls for holding formal receptions. There were observed traditions of cooking and serving dishes, long forgotten, but somewhat unknown to ordinary people. There is no need even to speak about the quality of raw materials and diversity used. Only the best food was served on those occasions, to show to the guest of the country how good people live in this country.Back