Voices From Russia, Too

Thursday, 17 October 2013

17 October 2013. Only in Russia! Now There be Some Giant Arbuzi in the Cossack Land, I Be Told!

00 Boy with giant watermelons in Krasnodar Krai. 17.10.13

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A boy stands between two big watermelons at the “Watermelon Paradise” festival in the village of Strelka (Krasnostrelskoye Rural SettlementTemryuk Raion) in Krasnodar Krai (that be Cossack country, chum). Any inferences, dirty or otherwise, reside solely in the mind of the beholder… now, I didn’t say anything, did I? You wanna know what “arbuzi” are… why, that’s just “watermelons” in Russian… didn’t everybody know that?

BMD

Saturday, 29 October 2011

29 October 2011. A Russian POV… Some Amazin’ Things About Candy…

Filed under: Food/Cooking — 01varvara @ 00.00
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The very first candy appeared in Egypt. Because sugar wasn’t known at that time, they used dates and honey as sweetening agents. In the ancient Middle East, candy was made from almonds and figs; in ancient Rome, they combined roasted nuts and poppy seeds with honey and covered it all with sesame seeds. There was also candy in ancient Rus, made with sweet birch sap, treacle, and honey.

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The most unjustly maligned sweet is chocolate. In Europe, in the 16th century, during the first chocolate craze, people attributed magical and medicinal properties to it. Naturally, since these expectations weren’t fulfilled, they began to consider it the source of virtually all ills. One young woman wrote to her friend, “I advise you not to eat any more chocolate. A friend ate it during her pregnancy and she gave birth to a completely black child.”

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Romantic people prefer strawberry candy, that’s according to German psychologists. By the way, the bold go for cherry fillings, shy shrinking violets like nuts (the food, that is), and creative sorts have a yen for coconut.

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At the beginning of the 19th century, every rich and noble lady discreetly hid some of the candy laid out on the table in her handbag at dinner receptions. The explanation for this “thievery” is simple, really… in Russia, at that time, there were no confectionery shops, and the candies for the dinner parties were prepared by pastry chefs according to their own recipes, which were strictly secret.

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The praline is another famous candy, being invented in 1663. A pastry chef cooked them specifically for the French Ambassador to the German Emperor, and pralines are still a most popular confection in Germany and Switzerland.

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Master Food Company produced the largest box of chocolates for an international cooking show. The box was 1.5 metres (5 feet) high and 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in length, holding 800 kilogrammes (1,764 pounds) of chocolates!

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The biggest individual confection was a Gummi Bear nicknamed Hagi-Boy, which was 1.68 metres (5.5 feet) tall and weighed 633 kilos (1,396 pounds), made by the Haribo Gummi Bear Factory. It required a special mould that weighed 4 tonnes (4.4 tons), and it took two weeks for the fruit candy solution to fully gel. After that, the giant sweet was removed from the form and it was polished until it shone. Here’s some trivia… there’s a mixed drink named after Gummi Bears… NO LIE. In Austria and Switzerland, it is called Gummibärli. You make it with vodka and Red Bull and it has the typical Gummi Bear flavour.

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Lollipops are the most “cosmic” sweet. In 1995, the Russian cosmonauts on the Mir space station asked mission control to send them some candy. The MCC decided that the safest candy in a weightless state would be lollipops. Cosmonauts with lollipops shot a video for a commercial for the company Chupa Chups, pointing up it was the world’s only confection popular not only on Earth but in outer space.

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As for the most unusual sweets in the world, it’s got to be the candy from Finland. Finns make sour (not sweet), salty (for beer), and even oily confections!

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One of the most famous Soviet candies was Птичье молоко (Ptichye moloko: Bird’s Milk). Initially it was formed around a cake and it was made by the ROT FRONT plant. The secret ingredient was agar-agar gelatin, extracted from seaweed. incidentally, agar-agar’s also used for finishing fabrics.

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Friday, 28 October 2011

28 October 2011. A Russian POV… Some Amazin’ Things About Vodka…

Russians believe that vodka is the purest alcoholic beverage in the world…

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Did you know that a litre (33.8 fluid ounces) of vodka weighs 953 grammes (2.1 pounds)?

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On 22 August 1941, Resolution nr 56200 of the State Defense Committee mandated that all the front-line fighters in the army would receive 100 grammes (3.5 fluid ounces) of vodka daily.

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Before drinking it, you should chill vodka to at least 8-10 degrees (46-50 degrees Fahrenheit). The colder you chill vodka, the more you can hide “off” tastes, so, unscrupulous watering-holes will serve poor quality rotgut vodka at very cold temperatures.

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Vodka came to Russia in 1429 from… ITALY! YOU GOT IT! Those Guinea party-animals taught us Russkies how to make and drink vodka! We’ve not looked back since…

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Vodka is at its best within 12 months of its manufacture… don’t say that I didn’t warn ya…

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

21 September 2011. In Praise of the Little Things… A Visit to a Czech Klobáseria

Here’s a klobáseria… that’s what the Czechs call a klobása (kolbasa/kiełbasa/Wurst) stand on the street where you can get great stuff to eat as you walk about town (to get the taste, use a Polish kiełbasa or a German bratwurst, they’re the closest to a Czech klobása, especially the former) …

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What do they serve? The best of the wurst! I know, I should be shot for such a BAD pun. That’s smoked pork on the spit above the grill…

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You wash it down with… PIVO! Plenty of it… as Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said, “Milk is for babies, when you grow up, you can drink beer!”

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How ’bout some šunka (vetchina/szynka/Schinken) on the grill? Oh, that’s “ham” in English!

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This is a bit fancy, but you can get smoked pork knuckle (rulka/golonka/Eisbein) at most better klobáserias. The normal “side” is kysané (kapusta/Sauerkraut); make sure that you drink plenty of pivo to be certain that it “goes down right”…

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You can get some guláš (gulyash/gulasz/Gulasch) (click on the names for recipes)…

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or some houbová polévka (gribnoi sup/zupa pieczarkowa/Pilzsuppe) (click on the names for recipes)…

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Max and Moritz: “Fishing” whilst the Widow Bolte’s at the Sauerkraut Barrel

Wilhelm Busch

1865

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To end it all on an appropriately light and happy note, here’s those two merry rascals from the 19th century, Max and Moritz… look at what they’re “fishing” for whilst Widow Bolte is in the basement attending to the sauerkraut barrel… not a good idea, guys…

By the way, the Neoliberal Free Marketers tried to close down the klobáserias as they weren’t plastic enough or sanitised enough for their oh-so-refined tastes (and the sight of ordinary folk hunching over and ENJOYING their food was too much for them)… besides, it was taking business away from their American-style fast-food franchises (they’re NOT against government intervention if it’s in their favour). To say the least, the common folks in Praha let their wishes be known! “We want to chow down on klobása on the main square, and you’re NOT closing down our klobáserias!” The commies and socialists led the fight FOR the mom n’ pop stands; they fought back against the megabucks multinational corporate fat-cat attempt at a fast-food putsch. Ronald McDonald and the American Way LOST. Václavák (Wenceslaus Square) is safe for klobása… and for párky (a frankfurter-like sausage always sold in pairs… good eats!) too… thanks to the Reds!

Take joy in the “little things”… they’re as much God-given as the “serious” ones… perhaps, even more so… and don’t trust the “respectable”… EVER…

BMD

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