Following up my reading of Anya von Bremzen's wonderful memoir titled Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking (link to blog post here) I decided to buy her 1990 cookbook, Please to the Table, in which she explored the varied cuisines from the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. She wrote it just in time -- the Soviet Union soon after broke up into a chaos of separate political entities, and as we well know, the chaos is far from finished.
Please to the Table is beautifully laid out and illustrated, with sidebars full of background material (such as the section below titled "Ah, Odessa") and quotes about food from many Russian authors such as Gogol, Tolstoy, Pushkin, and more, as well as from travel writers. The distinctions between similar dishes from various places are quite intriguing. Von Bremzen and her co-author John Welchman appear to have done an amazing piece of research, both interviewing people, traveling throughout the area, and searching old materials in a variety of archives.
|Sample page from Please to the Table.|
I really haven't yet done much more than browse, though at some point I hope to at least try some of the recipes and definitely read more of the historic material. So much to learn about fifteen different Soviet republics! I really could never have named them, could you? Here's the list as given in the book: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia , Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russia, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.