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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, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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