The World of Russian Borsch

Front Cover
AelitaPress, 2013 - Cooking - 240 pages
Borsch, also known as borscht, is perhaps the best known Eastern European food dish worldwide. Few, however, know that the earliest recorded references to it are found in 10th century Polish documents. Fewer know that originally borsch was not cooked with beets, a plant that entered widespread use in Eastern Europe only around the 15th century. And only a tiny minority of people are aware that the first experiment in transmitting the human voice from orbital flight involved the broadcasting of a borsch recipe. The reader is invited to share the author's borsch odyssey from a hogweed plant-based soup to its presence in outer space. The World of Russian Borsch is the first book-length study to look into the historical background of this dish, attempt to outline its evolution and dissemination throughout the world, and look at it in terms of cultures that created it. The book, designed for non-academic audiences and culinary non-specialists, engages readers in the travels of borsch through stories of the author's personal experiences, cookbook reviews, cooking advice and extensive historic and cultural research succinctly presented. It includes more than 80 recipes, which range from those in the earliest cookbooks to others collected recently from notable local cooks. The World of Russian Borsch, is as much about a wide range of people and their cultures as it is about a phenomenally successful food dish.

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About the author (2013)

Nikolai Burlakoff is of Russian heritage. A graduate of Harvard, with an advanced degree from Indiana University, he has shown interest in international cultural studies from his first publications, "Peter the Great and the Stonemason," and the innovative and successful book of essays, "Folklore on two Continents," which he co-edited with Carl Lindhal and a number of others. His long-standing interest in cooking finds expression in this work devoted to borsch, often associated with Russia. Previously he contributed to the grassroots cookbook, "Indy Cooks International," by the Nationalities Council of Indiana, and to "Foods of the Hudson: A Seasonal Sampling of the Region's Bounty" by Peter G. Rose. His first writing about borsch was the children's book, "How the Borsch Angel Got Its Name," published by His current project, "Dzhamba: Kalmyk Tea" is devoted to the story of the single-most important food item in the daily and ritual life of traditional Kalmyk society-a Mongolian people who have lived in Russia over 400 years. This tea has lost much of its status as a daily food in modern Kalmyk life but retains its preeminent role in Kalmyk ritual.

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