Blog Post 5

Here The Khrushchev era is well known as a time where corn was heavily favored as a staple food. Khrushchev himself pushed for corn to be the favored resource in agriculture. On his trip to the US, Khrushchev experienced the extreme difference in culture as well as agriculture. He decided to adopt corn for the Soviet Union and had a plan to save many people from starvation.

For a few years corn thrived on Soviet soil when there was a short period of hot summers. After this small success, Khrushchev pushed for even more radical agricultural goals. However, the Soviet over-extension into colder territories that couldn’t support the growth of corn coupled with a lack in agricultural technology and an absence of a proper climate, corn started to fail the Soviet economy. The Soviet Union failed to put forth the quantities they predicted, and so the popularity of it as a staple food as well as Khrushchev’s own popularity plummeted.

Even with it’s short lived success, corn has influenced Russian cuisine and culture in a very big way. With Khrushchev’s introduction of corn to the Soviet Union, many new recipes came about making good use of this food. It is interesting to observe the propaganda and influence on culture throughout history.

This picture of Khrushchev holding up corn is very symbolic. Khrushchev had extreme difficulty introducing an alien crop to the tightly knit Russian community, especially one that came from the evil capitalist west. Therefore, in this picture we see Khrushchev standing with corn in his hand, as if a defendant acting on the behalf of the corn in a courtroom. As we know from the brief historical recap, many were skeptical of this alien crop, whether it would be able to grow or if it was as useful in Russian cuisine. Everyone viewed this move by Khrushchev as radical. However, in order to save the Russian people from famine, he knew he had to work in radical ways, even if it was to accept help from the west.

Here we see a propaganda poster saying to make way for corn. As a statement of acceptance from the Russians as well as livestock. In the radical campaign to popularize corn, land that was originally used for other agricultural purposes, such as to grow wheat and barley, was given to corn instead. In this way corn not only metaphorically replaced a lot of traditional agricultural products, but also physically. It was mostly used to feed the livestock, so in the propaganda poster we see so many animals that would in theory be eating the corn.


Blog Post 4

While working on the video project for my Russian 3530 Culture and Cuisine class, I learned a lot about my own family and culture. Most of this stemmed from my grandmothers love of telling stories and expertise as a Ukrainian cook. I remember when we were little my grandmother used to always tell us about our great grandparents and their struggles. She later wrote a book about our families history (at least my fathers side) so as to pass on the information to future generations. Currently, she is working on a book telling the love story of my great-great grandparents.


The creation of the cultural dish of vareniki consists mostly of two ingredients: mashed potatoes and a special dough. Now everyone, including myself know how mashed potatoes are made, but I still chose to include it in the video because it’s absence would greatly diminish the importance of potatoes themselves in my family’s history. Just as the poor Russians during World War 2 treasured potatoes, so does my family. My aunt mostly helped with the creation of the mashed potatoes, that is why we see a different kitchen in the first part of the video. The creation of the special dough (the second main ingredient) took place in my grandmother’s kitchen. She lives in the same house as my uncle, so that she is taken care of. However, she loves to cook so much that my uncle made her a personal kitchen and gave her a section of the house.


Not all recipes remain unchanged over history. However, with such a simple dish, it is difficult to change the ingredients of vareniki. The only exception is the creation of the different stuffings in the dough, then the recipe may change. However, since we were using mashed potatoes for the stuffing, it is a simple, yet delicious recipe that both my mother and grandmother have identical versions of the recipe.


As stated before, I did use my grandmother’s house to make the vareniki, but I used my mother’s old cookbook as my Slavic primary source. It is a book that itself looks to be over 100 years old, maybe it is because of the poor quality of old Slavic book, or the constant use of it that wore it out so quickly. Either way, I know that the old book has become a very important piece of history for our family. So much so that at most family dinners, my mother brings out the book and starts reading about the things we used to do as kids. She recorded a lot of saying we had as she was cooking and we were bothering her because she was already using the book while cooking.


Overall, I learned so much about my own culture. This ranges from familial traditions to Ukrainian facts. I did not know that vareniki were a national dish or that Ukrainians loved it so much that they even built statues of this treasured dish! To me it seems crazy, but when you have nothing but potatoes, water and flour, you have to get creative with your cooking. The best thing about cooking with my grandmother is that she had the chance to tell me even more stories about her life and my ancestors. I know that it was a great moment of bonding and that every Slavic grandparent would love to spend time with their grandchildren to pass down the meaning of their culture. My rating: 10/10, would make and eat the vareniki again.

Blog Post 3


This old cartoon was an old Soviet Russia style with the goal of persuading people to cherish the bread that they have. At the time of famine, food was considered to be the most important of all goods, especially bread. In food lines, people liked to get as many things as possible. It was mostly on a first come first serve basis, where whoever got to a bread store would often come there and get a lot of the bread to themselves and their families. With the man in the cartoon buying out a lot of the bread off of the shelves, he goes back home and emptiest is full bread box, filled with stale and hard bread. In fact the same man uses a piece of stale hard bread to hammer in a nail, emphasizing on the fact the the bread was in fact rock hard. The paper that the lady gave him at the register actually had the main theme of the short film stating: “ Cherish bread, it is our life”.

BBC Article

The BBC article talked about the import importance of smelling bread in Russian culture. This practice comes from the fact that Russians like to have little snacks after drinking some vodka to avoid getting drunk faster as well as washing down the hard taste of the vodka itself. With bread being a staple in Russian diet, it was often used as the snack to eat right after you drink vodka. A lot of Russians actually believe that by smelling the bread they achieve the same effect of absorbing strong taste of the vodka. The smelling ritual also came from the fact that during famine, there wasn’t a lot of bread to be eaten, so they preserved one loaf of bread to pass around the table while everyone drank vodka during their get togethers.

The idea of famine is presented through the lens of the several revolutions that Russia went through overthrowing the royal family, soviet regime and so on. Famine was often present in every one of those conflicts and revolutions.

Blog Post 2

The role of kitchen gardens in Russian cultures is to primarily feed the household and be efficient. Since, the household can be up to 200 people, it could be pretty difficult to sustain all of them, especially if you’re buying so much produce all of the time. With your own garden, the goal is to save time as well as money. A lot of the text gives advice on how to protect your garden from neighbors, thieves and wild as well as domestic animals. This is because food is an essential part of survival and Russians relied heavily on their fresh produce or preserved fruits and veggies that came from their gardens. Most of the protection came from the garden being lifted and fenced from animals.

Blog Post 1

Domostroi on Organization and Economy



    The organization of the household is of utmost importance. Because of this, everyone has a hierarchy, including the wife. In the Domostroi, her place is below the husband and there is an emphasis on the fact that she should always search to please him. Ultimately, the woman has to organize most of the household and business ventures. She has to be ready for the winter and shouldn’t be worried for her household when it snows because “they are wrapped in two cloaks” (102). This shows that there should be no worry when winter strikes because the wife should organize everything to be ready for the winter. I see so much emphasis on survival and following the order of structure, it shows that it is the main goal of the typical Russian household. I was surprised by how much biblical influence there was on the issues of the past. Where things such as a wife’s character is discussed. Overall, this section shows that the organization of the household structured by the wife helps a winter survival. Therefore, the Domostroi (written for men) emphasizes the need for a biblical wife that could organize and serve the household in order to ensure survival for the whole family.



    On the topic of products from faraway lands, we see a unique strategy. Anything that is exotic and is available at the market in the summer or springtime is a good deal. One of the sayings is “Do not let anything pass you by.” This means that you should seize the opportunity to buy anything exotic even if you do not need it at the time. One reason for this is because you may end up needing it later in the winter time. Another reason for this is that you could end up selling the items for a profit during the winter when other people may need it but do not have it. Overall, the lesson to be learned here is that if you buy a more than you need at the time, it would still benefit you in the future and you could resell the items for a profit later. Here in America, we shop for everything for a week. Exotic items are always available, even in the middle of the winter, which has never really been a problem for anyone living in a first world modern country.



    The following section goes a little further into the previous section on exotic goods. As stated in the previous section, you need to buy more than you need at the time in case you might end up needing it later. However, in order to have it available and ready for use later, you would need to store it properly. Most of the buying more than you need happens to be in bulk. This allows you to pay a smaller price per unit, saving you money and time that you would not need to spend at the market later. This makes sense, since we can do the same thing at stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco. However, at the time, the role of women was reiterated again to know how to preserve all of the items that you bought. Not only that, but this section talks about knowing how to make use of every part of the items bought. For example, if you buy a cow, you should know how to use the intestines, brain and hooves apart from just the meat. This allows you to be a lot more efficient in using your resources so that you could survive with meat well into winter. Overall, goo planning and efficient use of resources is the main theme here. It reminds me a lot of the way Native Americans tried to use every possible piece of buffalo that they had. In this way they respected the land and made efficient use of the scarce resources that they had.


Russian Snacks Video

The video on Russian Snacks was pretty interesting because it involved some of my favorite childhood snacks as well as featured a famous Russian New Yorker. He is a popular instagrammer named GarikSuharik, who’s theme is based on relating to the Russian community and in a way uniting it. My favorite snack in the video is the flavored croutons. I always get those at the Russian store.