Mennonite Foods & Folkways from South Russia, Vol. 2by Norma Jost Voth
The Mennonites of Russia had a particular story and history, as well as a particular food tradition. A Russian Mennonite herself, Normal Jost Voth interviewed persons whose lives spanned from Chortitza in south Russia to Newton, Kansas, and from the Molotschna to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Their memories of orchards and gardens, Faspa and weddings, food preservation and
The Mennonites of Russia had a particular story and history, as well as a particular food tradition. A Russian Mennonite herself, Normal Jost Voth interviewed persons whose lives spanned from Chortitza in south Russia to Newton, Kansas, and from the Molotschna to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Their memories of orchards and gardens, Faspa and weddings, food preservation and wheat harvest fill this volume. In addition, there are more than 100 recipes (different from those in Volume I/, as well as typical menus and menus for special occasions. "Meticulously researched chronicle of the Russian Mennonite." -- Publishers Weekly
Read an Excerpt
Much has been written about the Mennonite sojourn in Russia. From scholarly works to colloquial stories of human experience most agree that especially for those people who stayed in Russia through the 1920s it was a particularly painful chapter in Mennonite history. Some Mennonites, feeling the winds of change, decided to leave as early as the 1870s (while other Mennonites were still emigrating from Prussia). They braved the hardships and challenges of pioneer life on the prairies of both western Canada and the United States. Those Mennonites who stayed in Russia found themselves in the thick of the Bolshevik Revolution during the 1920s. Because the battles between the Red and White armies raged over Mennonite farmsteads, many thousands more Mennonites eventually fled the lands of south Russia for Canada, the United States, and Paraguay. Many of them were women and children whose husbands and fathers had been either killed or deported. In Volume II of Mennonite Foods and Folkways from South Russia are stories of life in Russia during both the "golden years" prior to the Revolution and the dark years following the Revolution, of life on the North American prairies and of life in the jungles of Paraguay.
Wherever they went these people made a garden out of a wilderness with bone-hard work and ingenuity learned from their tradition. Whether in south Russia, the American prairies, or the Paraguayan Chaco, they formed a culture all their own; they developed a distinguishable society. In so doing they strengthened their identity.
A distinctive way of living encircled these Mennonites, from housing styles to their own language to an educational system to the routing of their work week. Through it all ran the pleasure of eating -- for necessity, of course, but also filling out all social occasions. Their food tradition flourished, and so, eventually, did they.
Often told from the woman's point of view, the stories in this collection offer an unusual window into Russian Mennonite life. So it is that Anna Reimer Dyck spent little time philosophizing about the political events which shaped the Revolution. Instead she remembered the good food and good times on a large Mennonite estate in the Kuban. Tina Harder Peters did not express opinions about the many problems faced by the Russian Mennonite church which led to various factions through the years. Instead she told a story about helping her mother build a Russian-style brick oven for baking in their new home in Manitoba. Tales of carving life out of the jungle in South America say little about how it came to be that Mennonites were allowed to settle the area known as the Chaco. Instead they included one woman's account of converting giant ant hills into outdoor bake ovens and making thousands of mud bricks by hand.
These women, our mothers and grandmothers, were persons of great courage, stamina, and faith. Even against overwhelming hardship, they determined to make life as normal and bearable as they could for their families. They continued to serve Borscht, Zwieback, Varenikje/ and Mooss./ They had babies and did their utmost to protect them. They had funerals and picnics and weddings and watermelon feasts. They were survivors who passed their legacy onto us, their daughters and granddaughters. Let us not forget.
-- Norma Jost Voth
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