I have a confession: I’m Russian. Or, I should say, I’m mostly Russian – there is suspicion that my dad’s side is largely some type of Slavic, despite the Germanic last name, but my maternal grandmother was a Russian immigrant from China, and her parents were Russian. Complicated, I know. The part of this story that you should retain is that my family usually celebrates major holidays by conjuring up some kind of delicious Russian food.
This Easter will be no exception. My mother didn’t want to tell me what she and my aunt will be cooking this year because she knew I would be jealous that I can’t be there, but our Christmas feast was kulebyaka and borscht – and, as are all meals that my mom and aunt prepare, it was amazing. I managed to take a picture of the borscht before it was devoured:
The kulebyaka, however, was gone before I remembered I had a camera. Om nom nom.
Honestly, I think my family makes better Russian food than anything I ate while I was in Russia. Of course, I may be slightly biased, having eaten their version all my life. I do remember my favorite bakery in St. Petersburg, somewhere on Petrogradskaya ostrov south of Bolshoy Prospekt, and I know we had good food in Moscow. I stuck to the pelmeny in Moscow. It’s hard to go wrong with pelmeny.
However, my friend Melissa had this (which can only be described as “fishy”):
It looks really pretty, doesn’t it? I kind of wish I’d tried it now. I also kind of wish I knew what it was called…
The thing I realized about Russian food while in Russia is that it doesn’t involve a lot of vegetables. Those it does involve tend to be of the higher-in-sugar variety, i.e., beets and carrots. Cabbage, too, but cabbage is good for you. It’s difficult to obtain fresh vegetables in Russia, even in the bigger cities. Where they have them, they’re not especially safe to consume due to the problems with the water. So for the two months that I was in St. Petersburg, I can’t say I was eating particularly healthily.
A few months ago, while on my I’m-trying-to-bake-healthy-cookies kick, I attempted to make healthy-ish pelmeny by using first whole wheat flour instead of white, then gluten-free flour. I never did eat my creations – in fact, they are still in my freezer, uncooked and taking up a lot of space. The whole wheat ones at least looked right, but the gluten-free concoctions didn’t hold together very well. I’m still afraid to sample. I think what I need to do is learn how to make them the right way first, then branch out from there.
I’m thinking Easter would be a good day to make real Russian food – as a celebration of both the holiday and the fact that my strict eat-all-the-time diet will be over. I want to try my hand at piroshky, which are little Russian meat pies, and maybe vinegret for the salad. I don’t know. I just ordered Nothing Beets Borscht, my mom’s favorite Russian cookbook, from Amazon, so hopefully that will be here by the weekend. Or… maybe I could even make kulebyaka. There’s salmon in that.
This post is making me miss Russia…