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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Russia's Nigella Speaks

Remember what LR said long ago about Russian cuisine? Maybe there's hope for Russians after all! First Post reports:

Yulia Vysotskaya (pictured), Russia's answer to Nigella Lawson, has caused a scandal by criticising borsch. The beetroot soup - a traditional Ukrainian dish which Russians have adopted as their own - is, says Vysotskaya "disgusting".

"I hate it as a dish and I hate it as a symbol," she spits. Gazpacho, says Yulia, is a far better alternative.

In these nationalistic times, with Russians torn between embracing the new and reviving the old, her comments have hit a raw nerve. Critics say that Vysotskaya, a favourite with millions of TV viewers, has lost touch with her audience.

There are hundreds of foreign restaurants in Moscow, but one of the capital's biggest success stories is Yolki Palki (Goodness Gracious), a chain of affordable restaurants aimed at the new middle class which offer exclusively Russian fare: meat cutlets, cabbage pies and an all-you-can-eat zakuski (starters) buffet. Lately blini kiosks have sprung up all over Moscow and Vilka Lozhka, an old-fashioned Soviet stolovaya (workers' canteen), has opened on the Arbat in the centre of town. The upmarket Russian restaurant Pushkin, open 24 hours, is still a place to be seen: its miniature mushroom pies are legendary.

Vysotskaya takes the opposite line, encouraging Russians to ditch their favourite black bread and babushka's home-made jam in favour of Thai green chicken curry.

Irina Mikhailovskaya, editor of Russian Elle, says this is no longer chic: "Initially she was exciting but now her show has got a bit tired. I think people would like to see a man doing a show like this now."

Step forward Andrei Makarevich of Smak (Yum) on Channel One. His speciality dish? Russian kebabs. Now that's more like it.

Then again, maybe Yulia will find herself arrested any day now. She's obviously a traitor to the Fatherland!


Anonymous said...

She is indeed a ray of hope in the dismal landscape of contemporary Russian eating habits - meat, spuds, and factory mayonnaise. (I've actually been presented with these three ingredients baked in the oven!).

Maybe she will be to Russia what Elizabeth David was to England when in the 1950s E.D. brought real (and easy) Mediterranean food to the aridly boring wastes of English cooking.

In terms of cuisine, there are parallels between England and Russia: 1800s -- Mrs Beaton / Yelena Molokhovets (very much a Russified version of the Beaton original) and now, with a 60-year gap Elizabeth David / Yulia Vysotskaya (bringing the concept of good fresh food to the ignorant masses of their respective countries).

This 60-year delay is interesting: another demonstration of the dead-timeout of Communism.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA. Russia is a "motherland", not a "fatherland".

Is this yet another example of your scintillating "analysis"?

(PS - You also may want to fix reason #16 on Reasons to Hate Russia. They didn't fix "grammatical" errors, not "grammar errors".)

La Russophobe said...


Not according to Yuri Luzhkov. We'll take his word over yours any day. Ha ha ha. Then again, as things are going now, perhaps you are right, and the Fatherland of Russians is Nazi Germany. Ha ha ha. Russians are laughing themselves right into the grave.

Anonymous said...

Back to Russian 101 for you.

"Отечество" does not translate to "fatherland". It cannot be translated 100%, but more accurately, means "land of our fathers" or "land of our forefathers". It doesn't exactly role of the tongue easily in English hence, the poor translation.

Anonymous said...

Oops - roll off the tongue. I shouldn't have been watching Bill Moyer's Iraq expose while I was typing.

La Russophobe said...


Thinking 101 for you.

It's fatherland unless you can give another Russian word which actually means fatherland, which you fail to do.

The fact that you think "land of our fathers" is different from "fatherland" is a good indication of how worthwhile it is talking to you. Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

Who's this mudak Anonymous? I thought we were talking about food and about one of the rare good things coming from /being done in Russia today.

Trust a Russophile to nit-pick off-topic and ignorantly to boot!

Отечество is Fatherland in English, as any fule no.

Perhaps we could ask Vysotskaya to create a recipe for Anonymous' муди and send the resultant dish to the Kremlin?