The Barnes & Noble Review
When most people think of Russian food, they envision Beef Stroganoff and Charlotte Russe, but these French-influenced dishes were only popular with 19th-century Russian aristocrats. For real Russian food, you must look elsewhere.
Fortunately, Catherine Cheremeteff Jones, who lived in Moscow during the early '90s, was able to visit real Russian homes and taste delicious home food. Jones comes by her interest in Russian food naturally: Her grandfather was the great-great-grandson of Czar Nicholas I. In this travel memoir-cookbook, she shares the best 40 recipes from her grandmother, great-grandmother, neighbors, and friends -- and each one has a story.
"Foreigners who spend time in Russia soon learn that there are actually two Russias -- one public and the other private," she writes. "The public Russia is typically cold and dark, backward and wary. The private Russia -- the Russia of tea at a friend's kitchen table or of sautéed mushrooms in a village dacha -- is almost unfailingly cozy and kind."
Though Russia has gone through many upheavals, Russian home cooking remains stable, influenced by the seasons, village life, and the rituals of the Orthodox Church. Jones takes us through the Russian year, with Butter Week preceding Lent, during which Russians gorge themselves on bliny (little pancakes); Easter, with the ceremonial cheesecake, pashka, that is made only once a year; and the traditionally raucous New Year's Eve, when Russians toast endlessly, alternating between champagne and vodka. And of course no Russian cookbook would be complete without recipes for eggplant caviar, meat-filled dumplings from Siberia, and flavored vodkas.