29 February 2016

CCCP Cook Book

Yes, Virginia, we love French cookbooks and Southern cookbooks, but we also have a soft spot for the weird and unusual.  Olga and Pavel Syutkin have hit both of those ideas in the CCCP Cook Book.  Let me clarify that, the book is not weird or unusual if you grew up in the Soviet Union in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. These are dishes that the former Soviet Union loved, while perhaps having no desire to replicate them in any way.

This period in history saw a land that was plagued by food shortages, and long winters.  Faced with few options, creativity was at a premium.  Look at a dish like Okroshka.  The translation means "mystery ingredients." Such a name doesn't inspire culinary confidence. The dish is composed of small cubes of whatever there was.  The authors tell us:
"The reason for its success is simple; it is almost impossible to judge the quality of ingredients such as frankfurters, cucumbers, or radishes when they have been diced into cubes and are floating in a generous portion of kvass and smetana (sour cream)."
Originally, the dish was created with high-end meats and fish, fresh vegetables, and spices.  It was a comforting winter dish that could be served cold in the summer.  As food became more and more scarce, the dish kept its name, but the quality of the ingredients suffered.

Like most cookbooks, CCCP Cook Book offers a glimpse into a particular era of history through its cuisine. Imagine taking those tacky photos from many 60's era cookbooks in America and trying to explain tuna casserole to the rest of the world.

While there was little diversity in the Soviet diet, there was always a desire for their vodka. As with much drinking, snacks are required. Here is a recipe for a popular Soviet appetizer to help soak up the alcohol.


500g pork fatback or belly (with 3-4 cm of fat)
3-4 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp coarse sea salt

Cut the fatback or belly of pork into pieces of approximately 10 X 20 cm.
Rub the pieces all over with salt and pepper.
       Slice the garlic and push slices into the meat, roughly 1 cm apart.
Roll in paper and refrigerate for at least 4-5 days.
       Serve as an appetizer.

It may be an old Soviet appetizer, but it looks like the very kind of thing that might just make a comeback.


  1. OMG...this is great! The recipe is a classic.

  2. OMG...this is great! The recipe is a classic.


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