What is unique and distinctive about Russian cuisine

Wladimir Kaminer Kitchen totalitarian


1 Wladimir Kaminer kitchen totalitarian scanned 2006 / V1.0 corrected by eboo It doesn't always have to be caviar for Russians, especially not at all. The true symbol of luxury in Russia is the pineapple. This example shows: In culinary terms, the former Soviet Union is unknown territory in this country. Thanks to Wladimir Kaminer, this is over now. He leads through pots and plates of the old Soviet republics, brings the layman closer to countries and people and on top of that the most exciting cuisine in the world. Because where else can you learn how to conjure up delicious fried potatoes without fire, pan and fat? All a Belarusian needs is an electric iron, some petroleum jelly and be very hungry. However, if you want to try new dishes yourself, you should rather fall back on the recipes by Olga Kaminer - unique enjoyment guaranteed! ISBN: Publisher: Manhattan Year of publication: 1st edition 2006

2 Book Babushkas, Balalaikas and the Kremlin that immediately comes to mind when you hear the word Russia. But what about Chartscho, Rudelki and Lazat culinary delicacies that nobody in Germany has ever heard of. While other countries have long since conquered our cities with their specialties, Russia is a blank spot on the menu. Wladimir Kaminer finally remedies this, because after all, he has been eating Soviet cuisine, the culinary delight of totalitarianism, for twenty years. During his foray through this unique cuisine, the individual republics are presented and their history and their most striking features are appreciated: from hospitable Armenia to woody, swampy Belarus, a kind of nature park with partisans. The focus of the stories is always an unforgettable encounter with the cuisine of the respective region. There are of course the right recipes, and Olga Kaminer puts her hand in the fire to make them cookable.

3 Author Wladimir Kaminer was born in Moscow in 1967 and has lived in Berlin since 1990. Kaminer regularly publishes articles in various newspapers and magazines, has a program called »russendisko Club« on RBB Radio MultiKulti as well as a section in the ZDF morning magazine and organizes events such as his now internationally famous »russendisko«. With the collection of stories of the same name and numerous other books, the creative all-rounder advanced to become one of the most popular and sought-after authors in Germany. Olga Kaminer was born in Sakhalin and moved to Leningrad at the age of sixteen, where she studied chemistry; she emigrated to Germany; Today she lives with her husband Wladimir Kaminer and their two children in Berlin. Her collection of short stories »All my cats« was published.

4 Contents of the book ... 2 Author ... 3 Contents ... 4 Introduction ... 5 ARMENIA ... 11 Kottbusser lamb ... 14 Armenian cuisine ... 19 BELARUS ... 24 Fried potatoes ... 28 Belarusian Cuisine ... 32 GEORGIA ... 37 Chartscho ... 41 Georgian cuisine ... 46 UKRAINE ... 51 The special features of the Ukrainian wedding ... 56 Ukrainian cuisine ... 60 ASERBAIDSCHAN ... 66 Lula Kebap .. .70 Azerbaijani cuisine ... 74 SIBERIA ... 78 Berries and bears ... 84 Siberian cuisine ... 88 UZBEKISTAN ... 93 Drugs from Uzbekistan ... 98 Uzbek cuisine LATVIA The pudding transport Latvian cuisine TATARSTAN The bald poet Tatar Kitchen SOUTH RUSSIA Five chickens in sour cream South Russian cuisine Appendix I Real Russians don't like caviar Appendix II Mother's kitchen Appendix III Vodka Thanks ... 164

5 Introduction There are few restaurants in Germany that offer Russian cuisine. They attract customers with such unusual dishes as "hering with apple" and "Russian spaetzle", and many tourists fall for it. But you can't fool me. I know Russian cuisine very well, I grew up with it and spent twenty years eating it in kindergarten, in the school canteen and at home. Russian cuisine is simple and filling. It consists of five dishes with variations that serve only one purpose: to fill the stomach quickly. For us, the Soviet cuisine was meant to be pampered, this culinary delight of totalitarianism. For half a century she had systematically extracted the best recipes from all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union in order to bundle all these cuisines into one: the hot Caucasian, the milky Ukrainian, the exotic Asian, the healthy Baltic and a dozen others too. This kitchen would certainly have great success in Germany if the Russians weren't so lazy. But the restaurant business is considered a complicated industry here. Maintaining a good restaurant means a lot of stress and little profit. My compatriots prefer to opt for less stress and even less profit, open sushi bars with ready-made kitchen equipment from America and fake Japanese from Buryatia behind the counter. Only sometimes do they opt for a lot of stress with a lot of profit, but such businesses are usually not of a gastronomic nature. That is why Russian cuisine in Germany is primarily made by Germans who have a Russian bang, a fashion that is now widespread here in Germany

6 Deviation from the central German mainstream. The Russian bang can be explained quite simply: Either the person in question studied in Russia or helped build a railway line there or married a Russian woman here or there. It is not uncommon for all three reasons to apply to the person concerned at the same time, because Russia is still subject to the laws of diamat, dialectical materialism. Nothing just develops there, but one dialectically from the other. If a German starts studying in Russia, for example, then the railroad is not far after they get married. If, on the other hand, he starts at the railroad, studying with marriage is inevitable. No matter how it starts, it always comes down to the same thing: You get a Russian bang. When the person in question returns home, she leases a typical city corner pub, decorates it with a hundred wooden dolls and vodka bottles, calls them "balalaika", "samovar" or, in a very unusual way, "perestroika" and lets the wife cook: Bortsch, Pelmenis and Kaliningrader Klopse allow Vodka is the Russian cuisine in Germany. The real Russian cuisine, with singing and hopping instead of knocking, takes place here in Berlin closed to the public, in an almost underground restaurant at the end of the Kudamm, next to a gas station and a bridge. If you walk past this shop, all you can see is a stand-alone barrack with blackened, opaque shop windows. You wouldn't suspect the ostentatious interior behind it. The restaurant is closed most of the time, but on some Saturdays at a late hour, the casual passer-by is amazed at the sweaty Russian men in fancy suits and the petted up ladies in evening gowns pouring out into the fresh air from inside the restaurant with loud laughter. Did they take drugs? An inexperienced observer would wonder. But 6

7 the experienced knows that these people have tasted Russian cuisine, the only cuisine in the world where the food itself is unimportant. The Russians don't go to restaurants to eat or drink, they can do that at home. They go out to party. And then everything that they don't dare to do at home for safety reasons must be allowed: singing, belly dancing, swinging on the chandelier. The main ingredient of Russian cuisine is the chef's mood. If he's having a good day, he can conjure up a sturgeon filled with caviar from his sleeve and juggle with skewers at the table, swallow vodka and spit fire. When he's having a bad day, things can get even more adventurous. You always have to eat everything because the Russian cooks are very resentful. It's best to go to such a restaurant with some Russians, it's best to have a table against the wall so that nobody can get to you from behind, it's best to have a little schnapps somewhere on the corner before your visit and nothing the day before eat. Then gather courage and just step in, greet people in a friendly manner and discreetly clear your throat. Only if you see ten or more brand new black BMWs standing in front of the restaurant should you not go in, but immediately walk to the other side of the street and pretend you want to eat somewhere else, but try again next week. But you can also organize a Russian meal at home: buy a lot of alcohol and pickles, call friends, turn up the music, invite the neighbors, done. The last time I went to Berlin to eat Russian was when my father turned seventy. He found it too small-minded to celebrate comfortably with the family at home, no: He wanted to splurge and invited all of the relatives to the aforementioned authentic 7

8 restaurant on the outskirts of town. For years, the shop has been a kind of secret magic door to the past, invisible to tourists and locals. Russians cook for Russians there and make them believe they have never left the country. I had already been there a few times, enjoyed this magical connection and every time I breathed a sigh of relief when I returned to Berlin at night. In the end, however, this magic door seemed to have technical problems: I called them several times to find out what day they were open, but no one answered the phone. In the end, however, I managed to arrange the only possible date for our time transport to be a Saturday. The evening started normally. Besides us there were about a dozen guests in the restaurant; At one table a boy named Micha celebrated his twentieth birthday with friends, at another two mustaches were drinking vodka while smoking and were silent. A festively dressed singer came on stage and asked the names of the two birthday children present. Then she typed something on her music computer and the room filled with music. The young birthday boy was honored with a Russian hit that had the refrain: "Without you, Micha, I'll die, Micha, every night, Micha, I dream of you, Micha" My father wanted to be sung about by name, but only got it instead A Georgian pensioner howl from the music computer: "My age has made me rich, and if I have to go soon I'll still feel good!" my father called from his chair, but the computer was preprogrammed, even that one Singer couldn't do anything. She walked off the stage before the retiree wailing ended. The song sang on by itself. 8th

9 As soon as we had ordered and filled our glasses, the singer came back. "Everyone stop eating!" Came her voice from the loudspeakers. Now it's dancing! ”Her computer spat out Russian techno, so loud that it was no longer possible to talk. But nobody wanted to follow her request, everyone waited patiently until the spook was over. The singer danced alone for a while and then disappeared back into the kitchen. My father examined his plate critically, the young birthday girl Micha at the next table suddenly spoke High German with a blonde, the mustaches went to the bathroom one after the other and then got drunk again. Then suddenly the room went quiet. The music computer was broken, it only made strange beeps, and the singer came to fix it. She hit the box with the palm of her hand, but it wouldn't jump. "Let's sing together!" She called into the microphone. "Are you Russians or what?" Everyone sat quietly at their tables. Something was wrong with our time travel. My father poked at his plate with a fork, picked up a piece of meat and looked at it in the light of the candle. "Well, before, my son," he began thoughtfully, "everything was better. Don't you need to tell me", I interrupted him. "Let's have another drink!" At night I stood on the kudamm with the old birthday boy on my arm. It had its tie in its hand and was waving it to the passing cars. The young birthday boy Micha stood next to us with a broken cigarette in his mouth. 9

10 "I'll get you a taxi now," he said, jumping onto the lane and holding up both hands. Brakes could be heard screeching and drivers cursing, several cars stopped, and one of them was actually a taxi. My father wished Micha the best of luck and called him "kolja". The next morning he was not feeling well, he spent the day in bed. The magic door, the last secret link to the past, had clearly closed. A little later, my wife and I decided to write down our experiences with Soviet cuisine so that future generations would have enough material to experiment with. 10


12 Armenia is a country the size of Lower Saxony, but of great beauty. The Armenian people are famous for their exuberant hospitality, their three thousand year old culture and their traditional cuisine. It was not for nothing that Noah got out of the ark on Mount Ararat after the flood and thus made Armenia the cradle of mankind. Despite these qualities, or precisely because of them, the country has been invaded by conquerors of all stripes since the beginning of time. Romans and Persians, Turks and Arabs invaded Armenia with violence, expelled and terrorized the population. Today more Armenians live in America and Western Europe than in Armenia itself. However, the many dark days could not drive the Armenian people out of their joie de vivre. The Armenian hospitality towards foreigners has not suffered any damage, everyone is warmly welcome in Armenia, apart from the citizens of the immediate neighboring countries. In the twentieth century, Armenia gained independence several times. After the defeat of the German army in World War I in 1918, the Turks withdrew from the Caucasus, civil war broke out, the English occupied Baku and shot the legendary twenty-six Baku commissioners there, including some Armenians, before they disappeared again. After that, the independent civil republic of Armenia was established. Two years later the country became independent again as a Soviet socialist republic. Armenian cuisine, one of the oldest in the world, got a place of honor in the cookbook of the socialist empire. Special features of this cuisine are salads, grass and spices, which are considered inedible in the rest of the world, the originally prepared meat dishes, the delicate sweets and the national drink, the cognac Ararat. This drink provided the first experience I had with alcohol on the balcony on the sixteenth floor, 12th floor

13 of a new building while I was visiting my schoolmate Arthur, supposedly doing homework with him. His mother worked as a waitress in an Armenian restaurant in Moscow. In the Soviet Union, it was the custom to take little things home with you after work, as a souvenir of a successful day at work. Arthur's mother brought home five-year-old Ararat brand cognac every day. She had already stocked up on this drink for the rest of her life and had long since lost track of her supplies. At Arthur's invitation, the two of us, both then minors, drank a bottle on the balcony of his apartment. The ararat tasted so sweet that we children did not identify it as toxic alcohol and without realizing it we got drunk quickly. Arthur started juggling potted plants until the last one fell off. I felt like a skydiver who accidentally landed on a fake balcony. Everything spun, the ground dissolved under my feet, I vomited. Finally we were hit hard by Arthur's mother. However, it was an important experience. Since then, I've never had Armenian cognac on a balcony on the sixteenth floor again. 13th

14 Kottbusser Lamm »Bad luck, the battle in the Teutoburg Forest. If the barbarians hadn't beaten the Romans back then, things would have turned out differently in Germany and German food would have been a lot tastier today, "mused my friend Alik." Above all, we would have much finer cuisine here: risotto instead of dumplings, good red wine, optimistic folk music , and all news anchors would be blondes with curly hair and big breasts! But they had to chase the Romans out of their wonderful forest, and what do they get out of it? Doner kebab! ”Alik raised his index finger. Actually, my friend was not entirely wrong, but someone had to defend the barbarian point of view during this discussion. After all, they fought against a foreign occupation for their independence. "I like Klopse!", That's why I said. "And you hardly know German cuisine.Pinkelwurst, spinach casserole, stew, two-pot And Germany is downright clogged with optimistic folk music, there is a huge pile of them here: Marianne and Michael and whatever their names are. You would have been the first to walk into the forest before this music, so be grateful and hands off the German culture, which is so unobtrusive. «Our culinary discussion broke out while preparing an international barbecue party. The German colleagues were responsible for the technology, they should get coal briquettes and assemble the grill system. We planned to impress our friends with homemade lamb skewers. Right from the start, Alik presented himself as the last true lamb skewer on our planet. Nevertheless, the great master was happy to take my help to help himself during the 14th

15 of work not too boring. Now we were stuck in a traffic jam on the way to Kreuzberg, and I listened to his lesson on the importance of the lamb skewer in the development of world history. »Many different cultures have tried this dish and all have failed. It is not enough just to know the recipe, experience is much more important. Only Armenians who grew up in Baku can do it properly, because every day there begins on the spit and ends on the spit. ”I believed Alik right away, after all he was an Armenian himself, and from Baku too, so I knew what he was talking about . "The most important thing is the ingredients," he explained to me. "We need the right lamb. And that is only available, as it has historically shown, at the vegetable stalls on Kottbusser Damm. «In the east, the Vietnamese traders are mainly responsible for the vegetables. You are hardworking, polite and discreet. You can't imagine a Vietnamese shouting "Five kilos of bananas for one euro!" In the ears of unknown pedestrians. The Vietnamese vendors sit quietly on their folding chairs next to the vegetables, which practically sell themselves. When it gets dark, they fold up their chairs and go home, watch TV Hanoi, instead of shouting out of the darkness "Everything is cheap, the rest for free!" The tomatoes in their shops are often better than elsewhere, but lamb is only available at Kottbusser Damm! The Turkish salesman looked at us suspiciously when Alik expressed his wish. "Three upper parts of the back foot?" He repeated in perfect German. "Did you make a joke? Where are you from, so clever? ”The salesman looked like a lamb professor with his sharp mustache and a thick gold chain around his neck. But my friend wasn't without either. Alik had a 15

16 mustache all over his body, over it two gold chains as thick as a finger and a gold bracelet with a watch the size of a teacup. "We're from Russia," he said, "strictly speaking from the Soviet Union. Hey, did you make another joke? "The butcher asked incredulously." I know the Russians well, many of them live in this area. Russians look very different. Honestly, admit you're Albanians! Did you make a joke? "Alik countered." We're not Albanians. Russia used to be big! «Ali showed with his hands how big Russia used to be. A few tins of Bulgarian feta and olives fell to the floor. "A very large country, many different people with different languages," Alik pointed with his fingers to an installation that was supposed to reflect the complicated geopolitical situation of our old homeland, but even more so a double "asshole" sign reminded me. The butcher looked at the figure and became thoughtful. My friend obviously managed to gain his acceptance. We walked along the meat counter together. Alik praised his colleague for keeping meat properly, the butcher began to boast: “Yesterday one of them brought me three lambs,” he said, “I sent all three home. I only take animals that look like meat, but there are fewer and fewer of them. The three from yesterday looked like "The butcher looked for the right word and helped himself with his hands:" Like a children's petting zoo! Oh man! No, that can't be true! ”Alik shook his head, taking the butcher's worries very seriously. We bought the right tops, plus loads of onions, Egyptian pepper and fresh mint, even though the 16th was born

17 salesman didn't want to understand our plan. "You don't need mint, just fry and eat!" He advised. "Everyone has their own recipes," Alik replied diplomatically. Finally, the two of them talked briefly about the right chopping, which opened up multicultural abysses. "So and not so," one heard from the counter. "Not so! No so! So and so!" he gestured so hard with the ax that my friend threatened to shrink a head every second, but he still didn't give up. The butcher wanted as always, but Alik wanted, like in an Armenian meat shop in Baku in 1979, and in the end he got what he wanted. I put three properly chopped up hind legs, i.e. all of our fresh lamb from Kottbusser Damm, in a large cloth bag with three Indian cosmonauts who had crashed and smiled very optimistically despite their crash. On top of that, I packed the rest of it and threw everything into the front seat of a taxi. Alik and I sat in the back. "What smells so nice there?" Asked the taxi driver. "Mint," we said. "Oh, that wonderful smell reminds me of my homeland!" He said a village in Eastern Anatolia, in our village these leaves were everywhere! They made the air sweet, and inhaling mint for too long could make you dizzy. Sounds very romantic, "we said." It was romantic too, "nodded the taxi driver. We were already in a traffic jam near the Kottbusser Damm and chewed all three mint leaves. 17th

Eighteen bald-shaven guys jumped out of the front cars and ran one behind the other. They screamed loudly, one of them climbed onto a BMW and fell down, another fired a shot. "Civil cops, police raid," the taxi driver explained to us. "So you're Albanians? How did it always smell in your home country? So good too? Yes, something like that, ”we lied, chewing the mint, looking out the window and wondering what it really smelled like here. 18th

19 Armenian cuisine All ingredients are calculated for four people. Starter nettle salad Ingredients: 800 g young nettle leaves, 1 bunch of leeks, 1 bunch of parsley, 200 g walnuts, 1 teaspoon vinegar, salt to taste Preparation: Wash the leaves of young nettles and sort them out. Soak the leaves found to be good in boiling salted water for five minutes. Then drain the nettles and collect the brew. Chop the walnuts, add them to the stock with the vinegar and stir to make a dressing. Wash and chop the leek and parsley. Place the nettle leaves in a salad bowl, add the prepared dressing, sprinkle with leek and parsley and serve. 19th

20 Bosbasch Sisiani soup Ingredients: 250 g lamb fillet, 1.2 l water, 2 potatoes, 1 teaspoon wheat flour, 1 onion, 2 tablespoons margarine, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 6 mirabelle plums, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 bunch of dill, pepper, salt to taste Preparation: Wash the lamb and cut into three centimeter cubes. Put the meat in a saucepan and fill up with cold water. Cover and cook for thirty minutes. Skim the broth carefully. Peel the onion and cut into rings. Fry in the pan with margarine, tomato paste and flour. Remove the meat from the broth, add to the pan with the onions and cook until the meat is through. Put the whole thing back into the pot and add the peeled, diced potatoes, pitted mirabelle plums, salt, pepper and chopped herbs. Cover and simmer for thirty minutes. 20th

21 main courses Kchutsch fish Ingredients: 1 kg white fish fillet, 5 onions, 100 g butter, 4 tomatoes, 4 peppers, 100 ml white wine, around 20 whole balls of black pepper, ¼ teaspoon black pepper (ground), 2 tablespoons tarragon (crushed), Salt Preparation: Cut the onions into half rings and the peppers into narrow strips, quarter the tomatoes. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Lay the onions, peppers and tomatoes in layers in the dish, season with pepper and salt. Place the fish fillet cut into large pieces on top, cover the whole thing again with a layer of vegetables, sprinkle with herbs, season and salt. Add the wine and cover the mold. Cook the kchuch in the oven at 180 degrees for thirty to forty minutes. Kololak Aschtarakski Ingredients: 1½ kg beef, 1 chicken, 3 eggs, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons cognac, ½ bunch of parsley, ½ bunch of tarragon, black pepper (ground), salt 21

22 Preparation: Beat the beef until it resembles a dough mass, then season with salt, pepper and continue to beat until the mass turns white. Then pour into a wide form, pour the cognac over it and continue to tap until the whole thing liquefies. Add a beaten egg and mix everything well. Boil a chicken in three liters of water. Hard boil an egg, peel it, remove the yolk and instead put a lucky note (for example with the quote from Francis Bacon: "Life is short; be careful not to keep doing the same thing!"). Place the egg in the belly area of ​​the cooked chicken. Spread out the meat mixture evenly on a damp kitchen towel and place the chicken on top. Close the edges of the meat mixture with the help of the cloth. Tie the cloth lightly with a thread, add the kololak to the chicken broth and cook for forty minutes. Take the finished Kololak out of the cloth and serve decorated with parsley. 22nd

23 Dessert walnuts with raspberries Ingredients: 400 g walnuts, 200 g powdered sugar, 400 g raspberries, 300 ml sunflower oil Preparation: Soak the walnuts in hot water for ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the skin. Dip the nuts in hot water, drain, sprinkle with powdered sugar, deep-fry and then leave to cool. Mix carefully with raspberries before serving. 23


25 Belarus is an Eastern European state between Poland, Lithuania and Russia, the size of half the Federal Republic. If the entire settlement area in Germany takes up around twelve percent of the territory, in Belarus it is only four percent. The entire state has fewer inhabitants than Baden-Württemberg. The history of Belarus is quite spectacular. The country wasn't always Belarus, sometimes it traded as Poland, sometimes as Lithuania, sometimes as Russia. For centuries this area was used by the eastern neighbors as a kind of protective shield against the campaigns of the west, whereby the enemy could never be sure whether he was already in the east or still in the west. Belarus has no access to the sea and no high mountains, but a lot of forest and bog. Almost all armies that dared to seek their fortune in the east have lost their way in these forests and swamps in the course of the last centuries. Emperors, princes and kings, clever generals and budding world rulers ended their careers ahead of time and gloriously in Belarus' roadlessness. Some of them stayed there forever, others came back as staunch pacifists: Then they took pains to write down their personal experiences in thick memoirs in order to admonish future generations. You can now fill an entire house library with these works. They have promising titles like My Life in the Swamp, The Partisan's Revenge, The Shadows Disappear at midnight and a clear message: Don't go there! Better to march to the south pool or to Australia. The world is big, make up your mind, but don't get anywhere near the Belarusian wilderness. But the young conquerors did not listen to the old ones. They thought the old people were losers and firmly believed that nothing would happen to them. Some were also skilled. Napoleon, for example, led his army around the woods but got 25

Then when he retreated into the thicket, his war was over. Finally, in exile on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon began to write on his trilogy My Best Adventures. In this work, among other things, his encounters with the eastern countries should be discussed. But every time when it came to Belarus, Napoleon got so upset that his doctors stopped him from writing. And so his trilogy remained unfinished. The strangest thing is, nobody knows what really happened in the Belarusian forests. Actually, the Belarusians are not born warriors, they are friendly, polite and intelligent. Perhaps they will transform themselves in the forest when they flee there because of a foreign army. Incidentally, every conqueror had to be ashamed of waging a war against Belarus, because there was nothing to be got there except mushrooms and berries, and neither socialism nor the time afterwards have changed anything. The impression that Belarus is a kind of nature park with partisans in it is also not entirely correct. For example, the country also has large cities, four or five, plus a few small rivers and gigantic potato fields. The Belarusian potato is the largest in the world. Even in the days of the socialist planned economy, Belarus was not doing badly. In the Federation of Socialist Republics, it was responsible for the production of gas stoves and washing powder, among other things. Belarusian chemical products were also considered cheap, toxic and effective in capitalist foreign countries. Japan and the United States liked to buy chemicals there that they thought were too dangerous to produce at home. In addition, the Belarusian nuclear power plants supplied half of the Soviet Union with electricity, the potatoes grew bigger every year, and the population was shining. 26th

27 After the fall of the Soviet Union, a "national democracy" came to power in Belarus, as in all other republics. An unmistakable Belarusian identity was urgently sought in the forest and in the field. The Belarusian language was to find its expression in its own script, and all of past history was combed through for possible national models. In school, the children had to write essays on the subject: "Why am I a Belarusian?" But this democratic nationalism did not last long. The National Democrats were replaced by the former kolkhoz chairman Lukashenko. Under his leadership, Belarus has taken the so-called Third Way: a capitalist potato socialism with cooperative elements, a model that is difficult to explain to the West. Everything is allowed and forbidden at the same time. Initiative is encouraged, but also punished. You act by feeling. Lukashenko, who is half affectionately, half ironically called »papulchen« by many Belarusians, made sure that rich and poor have the same room temperature and bite into the same potato. Lukashenko likes simple pensioners and cannot stand political opponents. "One people, one fate, one opinion," is his credo. He made short work of the national Belarusian language. "Dear brothers and sisters," he said in a televised address to his people. "I know two great languages ​​in the world: Russian and American. Don't fool yourself, choose one. "27

28 Fried Potatoes Almost all of the writers I know go jogging, sit at home on bicycles without wheels, and go swimming regularly. You need to keep an eye on your weight at all times. This is due to their creative work. It is associated with little exercise and a lot of extra calories from daily alcohol consumption. Every time I step on the scales, I remember my time in the Soviet Army. Back then we soldiers had a completely different problem: too much exercise and too few calories! For at least the first year, the lack of food, along with the lack of sex, was the main topic of all soldiers' talks. When a soldier had a visit from his parents or his girlfriend, everyone knew about it at night at the latest, because every soldier smelled in his sleep of the delicacies he had consumed during the day. The one from Moldova smelled of seared homemade pork sausage, the one from Siberia of pelmeni and vodka, and the one from Uzbekistan of grapes and kumys. Our Belarusian comrade Gleb never had visitors, but still smelled clearly of fried potatoes every night. My friend Andrej, who studied at a pedagogical institute before the army and was therefore nicknamed Professor, put forward a daring thesis: Gleb would only dream of fried potatoes, but so intensely that his dreams materialized in smells. This theory struck me as too scientific. I approached Gleb about the fried potatoes and found out that he had actually stolen a sack of potatoes from the officers' kitchen and learned how to fry potatoes without a fire, without a pan and without fat. For this he cut the potatoes very 28

29 thin, put it on a very thin sheet of metal and used an electric iron as a stove. Instead of fat, Gleb took small amounts of technical petroleum jelly. The preparation of the court was arduous and arduous. Roasting took a whole day, but eating it only took a few seconds. But we had time and were happy to help Gleb with his Belarusian culinary activities. Day after day he told us stories from his country and especially from his beloved hometown Novopolotsk, which is therefore even more familiar to me today than my own hometown. It is a typical Belarusian town in the middle of potato fields with average Soviet equipment: a tram line, a school, a kindergarten and five chemical plants. Strict security precautions were in place for all residents. Every other day the alarm went off on some combine. The entire population had to put on gas masks and go into the cellars on the spot. The alarm was often misused by the responsible staff. When a brigadier wanted to shoo a line in front of the grocery store, he would turn on the sirens; when the head of security went into the sauna, he set off the alarm; if a combine manager no longer wanted to listen to his wife on the phone, he also pressed the alarm button. That's why nobody in Novopolotsk took these sirens really seriously. Only the old people conscientiously carried their gas masks with their trunks forward, as recommended in the instructions for use. The younger ones wore their gas masks with their trunks back in protest, and they cut large holes in the masks so they could breathe and see. In Novopolotsk, the postman even walked around town wearing a gas mask, which made his already difficult job even more complicated. The two main streets in Novopolotsk 29

30 were named after the two most famous Belarusian poets, whose names sound very similar: Janka Kupala and Jakub Koloss. The postmen could never tell them apart. Fortunately, almost everyone in Novopolotsk knew each other personally and then exchanged letters with one another. In addition to such stories, Gleb also told us more about Belarusian national cuisine. He basically fed us with it for a whole year in the army and made us big Belarus fans. At first glance, this kitchen can seem dull and monotonous because it consists almost entirely of potato dishes. But that doesn't bother the real Belarusians. He knows that this monotony is a diet that was not worked out in scientific laboratories, but comes from the wisdom of the people. The consequences of this potato diet cannot be overlooked. There are hardly any overweight people in Belarus, the citizens live long and look good. The potato is not a Belarusian invention. In earlier times the Belarusians mainly fed on carrots. It was only Tsar Peter the Great who brought the potato to Belarus as part of a general Russian potato reform. According to legend, Peter didn't have to go to great lengths to get the population enthusiastic about the new food and its cultivation. He had signs put up around the first potato field threatening a thief with the death penalty, and on the very first night the whole field was cleared. This vegetable quickly became a symbol of Belarusian good taste. Since the eighteenth century potatoes have been to Belarusians what bacon is to Ukrainians, sauerkraut to Germans and spaghetti to Italians. Fried potatoes are eaten for breakfast, potato soup, mashed potatoes with pickled cucumbers and potato pancakes with jam as dessert for lunch. For the 30th

31 Baked potatoes are made for dinner and schnapps is drunk from potato peels. In recent years, Belarusian cuisine has increasingly come under the influence of Western culture. American chicken thighs, popularly known as "Bush thighs", or German sausages are served with potatoes more and more often. In the city's most famous restaurant, “Minsker Brower”, the chef recommends: “Large white potatoes with pork feet”, in which every German would immediately recognize a knuckle of pork. 31

32 Belarusian cuisine All ingredients are calculated for four people. Potatoes baked unpeeled, also known as "uniformed" potatoes, are an everyday dish on the Belarusian table. They are baked in the oven or in campfire ash. Baked potatoes Ingredients: 8 medium-sized potatoes, salt Preparation: Wash the potatoes, prick with a fork so that the skin does not burst, rub with salt and bake for thirty minutes. Serve hot with fresh or salted cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, butter and herring. 32

33 Starter Herring baked with potatoes Ingredients: 250 g herring fillet, 5-6 potatoes, 1 onion, 15 ml vegetable oil, 100 g crème fraîche, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs Preparation: Peel the potatoes and boil them in lightly salted water. Chop the herring fillet, chop the onions, fry in oil and mix with the herring. Cut the potatoes into slices and spread them in the pan, then put the herring with onions on top. Mix the crème fraîche with the egg and pour into the pan. Sprinkle the dish with breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for ten minutes at 180 degrees. Serve hot. Soup Potato soup the Belarusian way Ingredients: 200 g salt mushrooms, 2 onions, 3 potatoes, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1½ milk, salt 33

34 Preparation: Cut the salt mushrooms into narrow strips and boil in the milk for five minutes. Cut the onions into half rings and fry in oil. Dice the potatoes and boil them in water, then drain them through a sieve. Boil the rest of the milk and add it to the saucepan with the mushrooms. Add the onions and potatoes and bring to a boil. Main courses Försterbraten Ingredients: 500 g beef fillet, 800 g fresh mushrooms, 4 onions, 8 potatoes, 300 g crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 150 g butter Preparation: Peel the potatoes, cut into slices and fry them. Cut the onions into half rings, fry them, add the chopped mushrooms and finish frying. Dice the beef fillet and fry it. Layer the potatoes, mushrooms with onions and more potatoes on the meat. Mix the crème fraîche with the tomato paste and pour over the dish. Bake in the oven for twenty minutes at 220 degrees. 34

35 potatoes Ingredients: 1 kg potatoes, 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons butter For the filling: 300 g minced meat, 3 tablespoons stock or water, 80 g dried mushrooms, 2 onions, 3 tablespoons butter Ingredients for the omelette: 2 eggs , 3 tbsp milk, salt Preparation: Boil the peeled potatoes, let them dry and crush them. Add the butter, milk and eggs, season with salt and mix everything together. Sear the minced meat, add the stock or water and sauté briefly. Soak the dried mushrooms for two hours, cut into narrow strips, chop the onions and fry together with the mushrooms. Grease many fireproof molds, layer them with mashed potatoes, minced meat, the mushrooms with onions and more potatoes. Whisk the eggs with the milk and salt and pour into the molds. Bake the dish in the oven for fifteen minutes at 220 degrees and serve with fresh butter. 35

36 Dessert The little potato tart Ingredients: 300 g sponge cake, 100 g cream (easy to make from pudding powder with a creamy flavor), 3 tablespoons of cognac, 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar Preparation: Bake the biscuit, cool and grate. Mix the biscuit mixture with the cream and cognac. Divide the mixture into pieces and shape into a potato shape. Put in the refrigerator for thirty minutes. Mix the cocoa with powdered sugar and roll the "potatoes" in it. 36


38 Georgia is a Caucasian republic with around four million inhabitants, one of the most beautiful and oldest countries in the world and about the size of Hesse. The wine, the music and the superhuman hospitality of the Georgians are legendary. Countless legends, poems and novels have been written about the temperament of Georgian men and the beauty of Georgian women. The latest archaeological digs suggest that the first person on our planet was likely a Georgian. In the sixth century BC Georgia was a colony of the Greeks, its western side was called Colchis, the eastern Iberia. In the seventh century Georgia was conquered by the Arabs, in the eleventh by the Turks, in the thirteenth by the Mongols, then by the Iranians and then again by the Turks, later by the Russians, Georgia became the Soviet republic, and Georgian cuisine became in the aftermath known from the Baltic states to Siberia. After the fall of socialism, Georgia, like all Caucasian republics, was caught in an endless loop of internal strife. Many Georgians emigrated to Europe. In the last few years I have met more Georgians in Berlin than during the whole time in the Soviet Union. Some of them worked behind the counter in our local pub, Kaffee Burger, others we helped to get the first Georgian newspaper abroad, Iberia, up and running, and at every Russian disco I get to know these wonderful people a little better. The other day the shop was particularly full, we had to close around midnight due to lack of space. At the entrance, however, there was still a whining group: an older man in a chic coat with an old-fashioned hat, accompanied by two younger men who were festively decorated with ties and white shirts. 38

39 "You know Georgia, the land of dance and wine?" Asked the older man. "Yes," I replied. "I know Georgia, but only by hearsay. We come from Georgia, you from Russia, we are Brothers, let us in! "Said the man." But we're totally overcrowded. Can't you wait a bit? We're Georgians, we can't wait, "he said with a raised finger." I see you're in exactly the right place, I see you have a very good disco! " our bouncer. "We're jam-packed, I can't let you in," said the bouncer. "You don't understand," explained the older Georgian, "my two sons fell in love, we have to talk about it right away. And I see you are such a wonderful disco, all intelligent people. We'll sit down there in the corner. ”All three looked so decent, besides being in love, no bouncer can say no. The three Georgians sat down at the counter and ordered non-alcoholic beer. Scarcely had five minutes passed when the two young men pushed each other off the stool and hit each other. The non-alcoholic beer flew around. Thanks to the selfless commitment of our doorman, the trio was put on the street. Ten minutes later all three were standing in front of the entrance and grinning amiably. "It won't happen again!" Said the older man. "I see you have class here, all intelligent people, just the right disco where we can chat undisturbed No, forget it, "the bouncer shook his head," at 39

40 of this scam you won't come in here again. You've already chatted, I didn't understand what it was about. Love! "Cried the old gentleman." Oh dear, what a poor man I am, my two sons fell in love! What's the problem? "Asked the doorman." They fell in love with the same woman, that's the problem! "Explained the old man." And what does the woman say? "I interfered." She says : I do not know! You are both so great, I can't decide! So please let us in, we have to discuss this in peace. I've got both of them under control now, we'll be very quiet. ”Both sons promised to behave, also in the name of their father. We let the lovers in. They sat down at the counter again and ordered non-alcoholic beer. Less than five minutes later one of them was lying on the floor again, his brother was lying on top of him and choking him with both hands, on top of which the angry father was crouching with his hat. The puddle of non-alcoholic beer kept getting bigger. With great difficulty the lovers were separated and dragged onto the street. "I see you're a shitty disco!" Shouted his father, his hat had got a completely different shape from the non-alcoholic beer. "A bad disco with bad people! You can't talk here at all. Then we'd better go straight to the Turks on Rosenthaler Platz! «At night there are few people there, but plenty of space, plastic furniture and spicy dishes, kebab, no alcohol, not even non-alcoholic beer. Just the right place to talk about love. 40

41 Chartscho "Do you want it hot, chic or more exotic?" My wife asked me. We stood at a busy intersection in the middle of Moscow and couldn't make up our minds. Previously, most of the city's dining establishments were named after the republics or cities whose cuisine they represented. Today, most restaurants have imaginary names that do not reveal anything about their culinary content. From our intersection you could see three bars: "schesch-besch", "kisch Misch" and "Chitto Gritto". They all sounded sharp, chic, and exotic. We chose the latter. It turned out to be a Georgian restaurant. "Lamb didn't come today," the mustached waiter explained the menu to us in an unmistakably Georgian way. "But beef came and rabbit came." We pondered. "Did white wine come?" Asked my wife. The waiter shrugged. "White wine left the day before yesterday, but red wine came," he replied. We were a little angry with the white wine that it suddenly left without waiting for us. "What would you recommend us?" I asked. "Chartscho," said the waiter very convincingly. "Chartscho has just come "It's like the train station here," said my wife, "everything comes and goes and does what it wants." The waiter purred gently into his mustache. We 41

42 ordered Chartscho and red wine. It was lunchtime, "business lunch" in New Russian, and the restaurant was almost empty. There was only one couple in the room besides us, a man in a suit with a brunette. "You can order what you want," said the man in a suit aloud to his companion, which sounded a bit ridiculous in view of the very inexpensive lunch menu. "Oh, I don't know Law. Maybe I'll have a cup of coffee. ”The brunette leafed through the menu listlessly. Our chartscho came on the table, it smelled delicious. I knew from my previous encounters with this soup that it could make you sweat under certain circumstances. With us in the army, instead of bread, the Georgians ate pepperoni for breakfast, which they got sent by the box from home. The man in the suit peeked over at us and then called to the waiter: "Is the Chartscho really good? Yes, it is really good," the mustache replied, a little annoyed. "I used to be in Tbilisi," said the man in the suit threateningly. me too, "the waiter nodded." We often ate a chartscho there, and it flowed through you with energy! "The brunette listened politely, the waiter nodded." Everything was better before, "he sighed." No, really . "The man in the suit was slowly getting on our nerves." It wasn't soup, it was music, really hot. Musik-busik, "repeated the waiter, noting something on his pad. 42

It took a while, we had already finished eating, when the waiter brought the order for the next table. "Chartscho has come, be careful," he said. The man in the suit grinned, picked up a spoon, and winced as if to jump out of the seat and onto the table. His plate swayed and parts of the soup landed on his trousers. "I told you!" Said the waiter. The man in the suit looked at him, spoon in mouth, and said nothing. The waiter disappeared for a while, came back with a washcloth in his hand and tried, with gentle movements, to rub the chartscho into the guest's trousers. The man wearing a suit had meanwhile come to, he even smiled a little crookedly at his companion. "I want to speak to the boss," he said. "Boss didn't come today," the waiter apologized. But the head waiter from Chitto Gritto had come. He made a matter-of-fact impression. “I was downright ripped off in your shop,” the man in the suit said to him. “I can't go to my business appointment tonight in this condition, my pants are dirty. It'll cost you five hundred dollars. We're very sorry, "said the head waiter." We'll give you a voucher for a dinner, plus a twenty percent discount in all our chain restaurants until the end of the year. Don't say this is an unfair offer, I won't say anything more! I want five hundred dollars now, or you can get me your boss! ”The man insisted. 43

"Unfortunately, he's prevented, but I'll bring you the manager," said the head waiter.The manager, in a suit and glasses, was very polite, businesslike and discreet. He offered our table neighbor a thirty percent discount for two people for a full year, but the Chartscho lover didn't want to hear about it. "Five hundred dollars, or call the boss," he repeated. The situation became more and more exciting. We had actually finished eating long ago, but we really wanted to see how this drama dissolved. So we ordered two glasses of red wine and waited eagerly. Nothing happened for the next fifteen minutes. The offended man looked petulantly at the sky, his companion had long since finished her coffee, but was ashamed to order something from the enemy in this situation. Then the waiter reappeared and announced like in the theater: "The boss has come! And the white wine?" Did the white wine come too? "Asked my wife." Unfortunately not, "the waiter smiled at us. The boss turned out to be a young man in his early twenties. Instead of a suit, he wore a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and white leather boots that came almost to his knees. "What's wrong?" The boss asked the waiter. The latter answered him in Georgian, we could only understand a few words, Chartscho, white wine, music busik. "Take off your pants," said the boss to the man wearing the suit. "Immediately! I'll wash them for you with my own hands! ”He had big, strong hands: on one wrist it was written in bold“ Thank you, Mama ”, on the other was a partially blurred mermaid with a rotten 44

45 smiles and a thick tail tattooed. "I'm going to sue you," said the suit-wearer, a little listlessly. "You can kiss me too," the boss responded a little abruptly. "Is it always so funny with you?" I asked the waiter "Yes, always funny!" He smiled. We ordered another chartscho. If you go to a Georgian, you always have to bring a lot of time with you. 45

46 Georgian cuisine All ingredients are calculated for four people. (Attention! Nothing works here without walnuts!) Starter Eggplant-Saziwi Ingredients: 4 eggplants, 2 onions For the sauce: 100 g walnuts, 2 cloves of garlic, 150 ml vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 bunch of parsley, red pepper (ground), Salt, dry mixture of spices Preparation: Wash the aubergines and remove the remains of the stalks. Cut the aubergines lengthways and press for two to three hours. Chop the walnuts, chop the garlic and chop the herbs. Add pepper, salt, vinegar and spices to the vegetable stock and stir well. Mix half of the finished sauce with the finely diced onions and use it to fill the aubergines. Put these in a saucepan and pour the remaining sauce over them. 46

47 Pear salad with nuts Ingredients: 8 pears, 100 g walnuts, 2 pickled cucumbers, 100 g crème fraîche or ayran Preparation: Halve the pears and remove the core. Let the walnuts soak in hot water for ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the skin. Chop the nuts and use them to fill the pear halves. Then pour ayran or crème fraîche over it and sprinkle with the diced pickles. Chartscho soup Ingredients: 500 g beef, 2 l water, 100 g rice, 1 tablespoon fat, 4 onions, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon dry spices, 1 bunch of coriander, black pepper (ground), red pepper (ground) , 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon crushed coriander, 1 parsley root, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 100 g walnuts, 1 tablespoon corn flour, saffron, 1 tablespoon chopped basil, salt 47

48 Preparation: Wash the beef, cut into pieces about three centimeters in size and put in a saucepan, fill up with cold water and cook for thirty minutes. Chop the onions and bread them in flour. Add rice, breaded onions, coriander, parsley root, bay leaf and pepper to the broth and cook for twenty minutes. Add the chopped walnuts, tomato paste, parsley, saffron, dried spices, red pepper and salt and simmer for five minutes. Remove the pot from the oven. Add the garlic pulp, chopped coriander and basil leaves to the soup and leave to stand for five minutes with the lid closed. Serve hot. Main dishes Tolma Ingredients: 200 g veal fillet, 8 quinces, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 onion, 1 tablespoon of wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of almonds, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, black pepper (ground) Preparation: Boil the meat and chop it into small pieces. Chop the onion and fry it. Mix the meat with the onion mixture, pepper, salt and stir. Peel the quince and the top 48

Cut off 49, partially remove the pulp and fill the quince with meat farce. Reattach the quince lids with a toothpick. Pour a little water over the removed fruit pulp and let it boil for five minutes with the lid closed. Sweat the flour and cinnamon in butter and add the cooked fruit pulp to the pan. Caramelize sugar separately, add some boiled water and mix with the sauce. Remove the toothpicks from the quince lids and pour the sauce over them generously. Lobio with egg Ingredients: 800 g green beans, 4 tablespoons vegetable stock, 200 g butter, 8 eggs, 1 bunch of leek, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 bunch of oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper (ground), salt, 1 walnut Preparation: Peel the onions and Cut into half rings, wash the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the onions and fry everything briefly in butter and a little broth. Add the finely chopped coriander, parsley, oregano, leek and fry until done. Pour the beaten eggs over the top and bake in the oven. Garnish the finished dish with a walnut. 49

50 Walnut Churtschela dessert Ingredients: 1 ½ l grape juice, 200 g walnuts, 200 g wheat flour, 100 g sugar Preparation: Thread halved walnuts onto a damp thread. Prepare Tatari (sauce): Boil the grape juice over low heat for two to four hours, add sugar regularly, stir and bring to the boil while stirring. Cool the whole thing to 50 degrees. While stirring constantly, add the flour. Reduce over low heat and stir constantly until a mushy mass is formed. Dip the walnut twine into the hot tartare three times for half a minute at five-minute intervals. Hang the resulting Tschurschchela on the thread in the sun and let it dry until it is no longer sticky, but still soft. Wrap the dry product in a kitchen towel and let it mature in a dry room for two to three months. The matured Tschurtschchela must remain soft and then get a light powdered sugar layer. 50


52 Ukraine is an Eastern European state between Russia and Poland, about twice the size of the Federal Republic of Germany, but with a lower population density. With mountains in the west, forests in the north, tomato, potato and beet fields and two seas in the south. In the great forests of Ukraine there are still wild animals, deer, rabbits and wild boars, which, together with wheat, onions, tomatoes and potatoes, determine Ukrainian cuisine. Russian and Ukrainian histories are closely linked. In the eleventh century, today's Ukrainian capital was the center of the Russian state until it was occupied by the Mongols. After that, part of Ukraine became Polish and another part Lithuanian. Later part of it became Austrian and part Russian, and later it changed again. For the European monarchs it seemed like a favorite sport for a while to keep dividing Ukraine anew. In 1917, after the Russian Revolution, Ukraine became the main battlefield of the civil war. At the same time a great independence movement developed. Almost every village declared itself autonomous. White, red, and green armies marched and marauded through Ukraine, as well as the German Imperial Army, the Polish Army, the Anarchists, the autonomous peasant gangs, the Western Ukraine Liberation Army, the Socialist Revolutionary Army, and even a savage Cossack brigade, all in the Ukraine shed own and foreign blood. The most varied of parties concluded the craziest treaties, former allies fought against each other, former enemies joined forces. The balance of power changed almost every day. As in any war, the bandits were the most successful. Her favorite weapon in the Civil War was the so-called 52

53 Tatschanka: A machine gun was placed on a cart with several horses, a mixture of an attack vehicle and an escape vehicle. With five Tatschankas you could make each village independent, but in case of doubt you could quickly run off into the steppe with them. After the end of the civil war, Ukraine was accepted into the alliance of socialist republics. From then on she played an important role in agriculture in the Soviet Union and was responsible for the production of wheat and tomatoes, among other things. From then on, Ukraine only went downhill, it got bigger and bigger. Before the Second World War through the incorporation of Galicia, after the war came Northern Bukovina, Bessarabia and Ruthenia, the Soviet leadership handed over the Crimean peninsula to the Ukrainian Federation under the then General Secretary Khrushchev, who was himself a Ukrainian. The Ukrainian cuisine fed almost the entire socialist empire; it was called "shitnitsa", the country's breadbasket. The most impressive thing about their kitchen was and is how you put together a great meal with minimal effort. A piece of bacon, an onion, bread, plus a schnapps, the meal is ready. As a child, my parents sent me to my grandma's in Odessa every summer. I had to become healthier, give my parents space and at the same time visit their numerous relatives in Odessa on their behalf. But I didn't feel like visiting relatives. In the morning I took the bus to the beach, soak up the sun, in the afternoon I sat with grandma on the balcony and ate. Odessa was a health resort, popular with many tourists, but not Nice. There was nothing at all in the city's grocery stores at that time, the socialist supply here was completely fifty-three

54 fails. Everyone was shopping in the market. In addition, farmers from the surrounding villages and kolkhozes came to the city every day. They drove from house to house in large trucks and offered food straight from the field: tiny new potatoes and huge purple tomatoes of the "bull heart" variety. When such a car drove into our courtyard and honked the horn, the residents would go downstairs with their baskets and negotiate the price of their goods with the farmers with a dedication that deserved a better occasion. At dusk, everyone in the house would sit on their balconies, frying the new potatoes with bacon on small electric plates, eating their bull-heart tomatoes and drinking wine. The whole house smelled, hummed, chewed and sizzled like bacon in the pan. The neighbors had loud conversations from balcony to balcony. The Odessites were communicative and open, they seemed like children to me. Whenever I drove to the beach or strolled through town, strangers would always speak to me on the street. Your questions made no practical sense. The bus driver suddenly asked me whether I had seen the film on the first yesterday. And what I thought of this year's harvest, the conductress. A stranger said to me in line that I would remind him of his long-dead brother and what I thought about it? They were strange questions, unimaginable by Moscow standards. They couldn't sit still on the balconies either. "Have you read the evening paper today?" Someone called from the first floor, for example. "No, not yet. What did it say? ”Answered a voice from the fifth. Then the whole house got the whole evening paper retold aloud. Then you handed out your newly acquired 54

55 Fruit with baskets from balcony to balcony. The Odessites have always been particularly proud of their fruits. Every summer apricots, cherries and apples were offered in buckets at the markets at a ridiculous price. In April 1986 one of the most terrible disasters of the twentieth century occurred on Ukrainian territory, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. That was the end of fruit mania. My grandma died a year before. I haven't visited Odessa since then. 55

56 The special features of the Ukrainian wedding "It's not Ukrainian cuisine," my neighbor Genia got upset when I told her about the roast early potatoes on the balconies of Odessa. Genia has lived in Germany for over ten years, but she has not yet fully integrated. Instead of going on vacation to Mallorca, Tenerife or India like all Germans, she prefers to spend all of her free time with her grandparents in the small western Ukrainian village of Sagorow, »Hinterm Berg«. Genia herself grew up in the Ukrainian industrial city of Kharkov, where Ukrainian cuisine was not really present. We exchanged views: The Kharkovians ate exactly what was cooked in major Russian cities. In kindergarten there was kascha (buckwheat semolina porridge), cheesecake and sausages with mashed potatoes, later on at school and in the university canteen, meatballs and cod. But in the country, in the village of Sagorov, where people eat onions like apples for breakfast, the old secret recipes of Ukrainian cuisine are still valid, said Genia. Her grandmother's village is well protected from globalization and civilization. There are no airlines, no train connections, and no buses that go there. It is also not shown on any map and is not mentioned in any travel guide. Only a few locals know the way there through the forest and across the fields. A stranger has no chance of finding this village unless he is picked up by tractor from the Lugansk train station by locals. In everyday life, the locals have no time to prepare culinary delights. You need potatoes and 56

57 Plant tomatoes, milk cows and feed pigs. Their national Ukrainian cuisine unfolds only at public celebrations: weddings and funerals. Every year in the summer, Ukrainians feel like starting families. Every week there is weddings and celebrations in the village, later in winter they get divorced again. Death is very rare, and when it does, it is violent. Most of the residents there believe in the healing power of onions for breakfast, and as long as they believe in it, it works. The most important culinary event in the country is the Ukrainian wedding, a tough test for the whole clan. There are iron rules for the preparation of such a festival. With fewer than four hundred guests, a wedding will not be noticed by the population and is considered invalid. Every household must have cutlery and crockery ready for at least two hundred people, otherwise the family would never find a bride or a groom for their offspring. Well, the Ukrainian plates and cups may not be as elaborately designed as those in Europe. It is enough to have a deep plate, a fork and a shot glass per guest. Sometimes a spoon is added. But when a whole battalion of guests is expected, even the friendliest host can be overwhelmed. As soon as the wedding day is set, all the housewives from the neighborhood come together to share the tasks among themselves: who bakes the bread, who makes the black pudding, who is responsible for "svezhanka", the fried fresh meat with onions. Two pigs are usually sacrificed for the ceremony and processed completely down to the skin into various dishes. Potatoes are used to bake "draniki", thin potato pancakes that Genia considered a specialty of Ukrainian cuisine for a long time and was very surprised when she found them in a German 57

Discovered 58 snack bar at Cologne Central Station. She has not yet found out how the Ukrainian Draniki made it to North Rhine-Westphalia. Apparently there was a connection between the cultures of the two countries in the early Middle Ages. Unlike the Rhinelander, the Ukrainians would never eat their potato pancakes with applesauce, but only with "smetana" (sour cream). The Ukrainian wedding always takes place outside in the fresh air. Tables and benches are put together in a long row. First of all, homemade schnapps in two-liter bottles as well as pickled tomatoes and cucumbers are on the table, as well as a freshly baked Polaniza a roll about half a meter in diameter. It is torn apart with the hands and eaten in huge pieces. At the beginning there is a toast to a long and happy life for the newlyweds and then they eat until they drop. Everything that the women's brigade has prepared for several days must be destroyed by the guests. There is actually only one course at Ukrainian weddings, but it can take up to three days. Eating together may only be interrupted by toasts and short fights that take place at the table at regular intervals. In between there is also dancing and singing.The entire ceremony is usually accompanied by an orchestra performing folkloric and modern wedding songs in an endless loop. Every year a new wedding hit makes the rounds in Ukraine. It is currently a popular pop ballad with the awkward title: "The smoke of your menthol cigarette". That will certainly change in the next year. Until the time comes, however, old and young sing along with the chorus: 58

59 You are with someone else I comfort myself with strange ladies But every time I kiss a stranger I think of you, you my sweetie Like a cloud stands before my eyes The smoke of your menthol cigarette Yeah, yeah, yeah 59

60 Ukrainian cuisine All ingredients are calculated for four people. (Attention garlic!) Starters Beetroot with garlic Ingredients: 600 g beetroot, 1 onion, 1 cucumber, 4 cloves of garlic, 100 g vegetable oil or mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon vinegar, pepper, salt Preparation: Option A: Wash the beetroot, cook, cool, peel, cut into cubes and fry in oil. Chop the garlic, chop the onion and drizzle with vinegar. Mix the onion pieces, the garlic and the beetroot, season with salt, pepper and dress with oil. Option B: Grate the cooked beetroot, add crushed garlic, dress with mayonnaise and decorate with fresh or pickled cucumbers. 60

61 tomatoes with garlic dressing Ingredients: 6 tomatoes, 4 eggs, herbs For the dressing: 6 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt Preparation: Boil the eggs hard, peel, cut into slices. Cut the tomatoes into slices. Lay out the tomatoes and eggs on a plate like fish scales. Dressing: Peel the garlic, mash it with salt, add sugar, water and vinegar, chill. Pour the dressing over the tomato and egg slices, chop the herbs and sprinkle over them. Bortsch soup Ingredients: 500 g soup meat, 4 potatoes, 400 g white cabbage, 1 beetroot, 100 g tomato paste, 100 g sour cream, soup greens, 1 onion, 20 g pork bacon, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, 1 bay leaf, Salt, pepper 61

62 Preparation: Boil the meat stock. Cut the soup greens and the beetroot into narrow strips. Chop the onion finely. Put the beetroot in the pan, cook with tomato paste, vinegar and a little meat stock for fifteen minutes. Fry the soup greens and the onion lightly in butter, add the flour, fry for five minutes, add a little broth and bring the whole thing to a boil. Cut the potatoes into cubes, coarsely chop the cabbage. Add the potatoes, cabbage and beetroot to the broth, season with salt, pepper and cook for fifteen minutes. Add the soup greens, bay leaf, pepper and cook for another fifteen minutes. Remove the pot from the oven. Cut the pork bacon into cubes, chop the garlic and place in the Bortsch. Let it steep for twenty minutes. Serve with sour cream and finely chopped parsley. Main dishes Stuffed piglet Ingredients: 1 piglet, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg For the filling: 800 g mixed minced meat, 200 g pork bacon, 8 eggs, 300 ml milk, 50 ml cognac 62