Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' a Gift to Young Housewives

Elena Molokhovets, Author, Joyce Toomre, Translator, Joyce Toomre, Introduction by
Elena Molokhovets, Author, Joyce Toomre, Translator, Joyce Toomre, Introduction by Indiana University Press $49.95 (708p) ISBN 978-0-253-36026-7
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 704 pages - 978-0-253-21210-8
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Banned in Molokhovets's native country since the Russian Revolution, this gastronomic standard for pre-Revolutionary upper- and middle-class Russian households has been impressively translated and edited by food historian and Harvard research associate Toomre. Translations of more than 1000 recipes recall foods central to Russian life: cabbage with butter and crumbs, potato pudding, Beef Stroganov, babas , piroq , pashka . Toomre's substantive introduction presents ``not a history of Russian cooking per se, but rather an impressionistic reconstruction of household conditions.'' She charts a range of elements, from the purpose of each of the four or five daily meals and the sleeping conditions of servants to the once privileged status of the potato. Toomre also assesses the influences of foreign peoples, such as the techniques of the French and the foods of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as modern approximations for arcane measurements. Much more than a re-creation of a lost time or a rumination on changing culinary tastes, this book is an important contribution to Russian history. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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