Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Russian Kitchen

Russia, like other nations, has a culinary history that expresses its geography, history, economy, and diverse cultures. If you take a look at what we place on our own table, you'll catch a glimpse into our family life as well.

Meat for Shashlyk marinates overnight in vinegar, onion, peppercorn and bay leaf before placing on skewers.

Salmon Salad. My version is inspired from a favorite cafe' we frequented as newlyweds. Salmon, sweet corn, a dab of mayonnaise, and onion. Garnish with grated cheese and dill. Russians still talk about Khruschev's corn obsession in the '60s.

Baba Natasha making a fresh cabbage salad with garlic, tomatoes, carrots, dill and cabbage. Cabbage is a Russian staple, usually marinated or salted, somewhat resembling sauerkraut.

Maxim putting meat and onions on a long skewer or "shampur."

Though we have a round grill, we build a fire on flat rock slabs surrounded by bricks for grilling the shashlyk.

Luca could not wait to begin enjoying his meal.

Baba Natasha finally gets to sit down.

Tea is an important part of our life. This particular day it was accompanied by homemade "Sukhariki" which are very much like Italian biscotti.

It is little wonder that CM peppered her own writing with food as metaphor as those vehicles of noble ideas, books, are often filled with food as a literary device.

One of my favorite Russian authors, Anton Chekhov, used food to comment on the socio-economic disparities of his time. Dostoevsky's character, Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlov, the object of desire in The Brothers Karamazov is called Grusha, Grushenka, and Grushka, which translates literally to pear or little pear. As I began to look closely, I found that everything on our plates also seemed to have a story to tell.


Nick Manson said...

Brings to mind the greatest food related quote on socio-economic disparity, "Let them eat cake."

Please make salmon salad the next time we're together. And/or send me the recipe. It looks delicious. I'm a bit obsessed with food of late. I got to go on the pump and am enjoying a newfound freedom to eat whatever and whenever I want again. One of the ladies here at work still talks about your tabbouleh.

Cindy said...

It all looks SO yummy!!!

Sue said...

Oh, that made my mouth water! Our plates certainly do have a story to tell, don't they? Ours are a unique blend of Japanese and American. I enjoyed seeing your Russian table, and I really must try that salmon salad! Is that smoked salmon, or just poached or cooked in some other way?

Richele said...

That would be the very budget-friendly salmon in a can. The kind I get here is Alaskan Keta salmon packed with a bit of salt. I'll bet you get many lovely sorts of salmon in Japan!

Jeanne said...

Oh yum! I just love little glimpses of family life chez Babarin!

Can't wait until I get to eat it with day...

Everything looks delicious.

Val & Giuseppe Lafuenti said...

Richele, everything looks wonderful I would love to try it all. Where you have Russian food at your table I always have Italian at ours with Pino. Your web sight is wonderful!!
Val Lafuenti