Borshch in the post-USSR

Everything you didn't know you wanted to know about the old Soviet Union's unifying cuisine

By Andrew Leonard
Published March 18, 2008 7:57PM (EDT)

A taste of "The Story of Borshch":

James Meek writes in The Guardian:

Recipes, like birds, ignore political boundaries. Just as the British empire still has a culinary pulse, beating in a curry in Scotland or in the mug of builder's tea with sugar and milk you are handed in some roadhouse on the Karakorum Highway; just as the Ottoman empire breathes phantom breaths in little cups of muddy coffee from Thessaloniki to Basra; so the faint outline of the Tsarist-Soviet imperium still glimmers in the collective steam off bowls of beetroot and cabbage in meat stock, and the soft sound of dollops of sour cream slipping into soup, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Japan and, in emigration, from Brooklyn to Berlin.

If you are partial to a wandering, eloquent tale of beetroot soup that illuminates present day relations between Russia and Ukraine, features cameos by Russian mobsters, Stalin, Nikolai Gogol and the Orange Revolution, don't miss "The Story of Borshch." (Thanks to A Fistful of Euros for the tip.)

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works Russia Ukraine