Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Soviet Kitsch: Sandwiches and Canapes

Looking for appetizer ideas? Why not consider this Soviet cookbook from the 1960s? Seriously.

Admittedly, when it comes to food, I’m no fan of all things retro. I don’t collect old cookbooks, I have no interest in making “gourmet” versions of 60s stalwarts like tuna casserole, and I’ve never perused the Gallery of Regrettable Food. That said, I do have a soft spot for my mom’s collection of Soviet cookbooks and recipe cards. This is partly because they’re a slice of a historical era that holds some interest for me, and also because they often have useful hints and techniques for under-quipped cooks, like making dumpling dough sans pasta machine.

I rarely turn to these cookbooks for actual recipes, which tend to be minimalist (grated carrots), unappetizing (boiled sausage and potatoes), or both. Plus, these books never list exact ingredient amounts, oven temperatures, or introduce recipes. Soviet cookbooks are entirely food-porn free, as eating and cooking was a pragmatic affair for their readers. A rare exception is this little booklet on sandwiches and canapés. Yes, the photography is terrible (yet no worse than mine on this blog), but the sandwich and appetizer ideas are charming, original and totally edible.

Sandwich towers made with toasted rye bread rounds and stacked with cucumber, cheese, tomato, hardboiled eggs, ham, smoked fish and what have you.

Sandwich sailboats--toasted white bread and Swiss cheese sails, held in place with a toothpick. When I was a kid, this is all I would eat at times.

Some sort of smoked fish--herring or mackerel--with hard-boiled eggs and red pepper. Note the scenically positioned whole fish, complete with heads, tails, and eyes. Yum.


Pille said...

Sounds like a fun book, Yulinka! Sadly I don't read Russian (I know - quite shocking considering I was taught the language for 11 years at school), so I cannot buy any of the great-looking retro cookbooks sold by old Russian ladies at the flea markets. You see, I'm very much into nostalgy cooking :)
Have a lovely 2008!

Mrs. M. said...

Hi Pille--Old Russian cookbooks are fun to read for the kitsch/history, but I rarely cook from them. You're not missing much as far as great recipes.

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