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A Trip Down Soviet Culinary Lane

Published: January 15, 2014 (Issue # 1793)


As you wander through the aisles of your local grocery store, you might notice a curious phenomenon: a growing nostalgia for (Soviet cooking). (meat dumplings) are once again packaged in gray cardboard boxes with faded orange lettering, pastry display cases are filled with (puff pastries) and the Yeliseyevsky shop on Nevsky Prospekt seeks to emulate the pre-revolutionary shopping experience.

For foreigners who spent time in the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union, this nostalgia might seem a bit misplaced. I would personally like to forget the standard Intourist lunch fare of mystery meat in sauce on overcooked buckwheat groats. Nor do I ever want to stand in line for three hours to buy a half-kilo of greenish tinged (cold cuts). But the good stuff, when you could get it (), really was good. And perhaps it tasted even better because it was a rare treat. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, with people and (cold roast pork).

In any case, heres a guide to some of Soviet cookings Greatest Hits.

First, look for the abbreviation (state standard). Starting in 1925, recipes were developed and assigned state standard numbers to ensure that, say, the (dietetic baloney an oxymoron if there ever was one) you bought in Kazan was exactly the same as the stuff you bought in Kiev. And lest you sneer, some of these recipe developers knew what they were doing. The recipe for includes a bit of cardamom and nutmeg. Who knew?

But beware: is now a marketing tool, and if you read carefully you might find that the on (sweetened condensed milk) is actually for safety standards at the factory.

(lets not talk about bad things). Instead well push our mental shopping cart toward (delicatessen, deli section), which is a store or section of a grocery store selling ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food. Here you might want to sample (caviar) not the fish roe, but the thick vegetable puree: (squash), (eggplant) or (mushroom). Now stores try to make it as close as possible to what one person calls (the taste of squash caviar from the age of socialism).

But probably the tastiest food made from the Soviet recipe file can be found in the (baked goods) section of your grocery store. Start with some sugar cookies in the shape of the letter , which used to be called (verb) in the Russian alphabet. Try some (chocolate pastry potatoes), which are made by mixing cake crumbs with milk, butter, sugar and and then rolling the mass in cocoa and sugar. And end with a (from the word moist), a shortcrust pastry filled with (pot cheese) and (sour cream).

You might find yourself agreeing with this old ditty: / , loosely translated as: Every schoolchild knows the answer! Whats a country without its standards?

Michele A. Berdy, a Moscow-based translator and interpreter, is the author of The Russian Words Worth (Glas), a collection of her columns.

Also by Michele A. Berdy:

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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