Today I received my diploma issued in France. Well, at least this country still has money for thick paper!=)
But actually, this post is dedicated to the Old New Year phenomenon in Russia, which falls on the 13th of January. I told you once that we celebrate the Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January, because our church still follows the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. Thus, we have X-mass after New Year, but we also have this Old New Year according to the same ‘old’ calendar. You think, what the hell? Well, for Russians, all reasons to celebrate are good reasons, whether they’re sane or insane. So here is the double New Year paradox. Do not think that all Russians celebrate it, no, of course not, but we DO still remember about it and some crazy people go out to use up the rests of their firework stocks that day.
I also promised to tell you about the alternative ways of celebrating New Year in USSR. My Mom told me that her parents with their friends used to go each 31st of December (the winters were snowy almost all those years) to the country nearby to… ski! They went their on a bus usually not very early in the morning to return just several hours before the New Year’s eve. You can imagine, that they DID once miss one bus and were forced to take the last one. So, they were also forced to hehehe celebrate New Year on a bus somewhere crossing the rail road lines!=) She told me how great it was to spend a day outside, with friends, skiing in a snow-covered forest. Your cheeks are pink, legs are tired, you’re hungry and very glad to get back to your flat, where all the necessary salads and baked stuff are already prepared the day before so that the celebration goes smoothly. The friends usually stayed overnight or my Mom and her parents visited them instead. Once they were close to miss the New Year coming, arriving home just in time to drop off their skiing clothes and change to festive dresses=) Unfortunately, the years when I was growing, the situation in the nearby countryside was hmmm quite dangerous. I mean it! The 90s in Russia were really tough, so it was better not to go where the ‘criminal elements’ as they were called, used to live. So I never skied before the New Year day, pity! However, we skied and went to the nearby ex-royal parks in winter to have our strolls with a flask full of hot tea and a batch of sandwiches. Those were simple pleasures, simple things, and we did enjoy them.
Ok, now some more details on the festive New Year’s table in USSR. There was this thing called Prazdnichny Nabor (Festive Set) which was granted to the employees in some Soviet enterprises (I guess you do understand, that they were all state-owned). However, some employees never saw this thing, as it was more habitual for the capital, for the high ranks, for the authorities, military people etc. I’ve never seen one, but that’s what my parents told me about it:
The set included very rare delicatessen, such as:
a jar of caviar
a can of imported instant coffee
dry cured sausage
some packages of cookies
pink salmon cold cured (don’t ask what’s that, I hate fish=)
frozen blue chicken-sportsman (awful, haha, but that’s what you got! the chicken used to be so sporty during its short life that you had to have very good teeth to eat it…)
some options also included buckwheat groats (this happened somewhere round the 90s), a pack or even several packs of ‘Indian tea with an elephant’ (the most popular and almost the only type),…
The directors, heads of… etc. received more luscious sets, of course, for example, they could find a kilo of cured sausage on top.
The last thing – which is actually one of the FIRST staples of the celebration – is that we watch one Soviet movie EACH New Year, as some Europeans watch now even more popular Dinner for One (which was not that much funny for me, but I guess our New Year staple won’t be very funny for the non-Russians either). It is the famous Ironia Sudby ili S Lyogkim Parom! (translated by Wikipedia as The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!). A very dear film for practically all Russians, I’ve seen it for so many times and yet each New Year’s Eve starts with this film, shown at least on one of the channels. The movie is long, so you start frenetically chopping your Olivier and Herring salads with the first part and proceed to other dishes and drinking with the second part. The story is quite unusual, funny and lyrical and sad at the same time. Some find it too long and over-sentimental perhaps, but I would not say so. And almost all the phrases have entered the colloquial speech. I guess you need to be at least partially Soviet or Russian at least in order to really understand and enjoy the film, but, who knows, perhaps one day you’ll learn Russian and watch it! I’ve seen a Russian language tutorial-manual using this movie, but I guess that will be really hard for beginners. And also a Polish actress stars in this film, Barbara Brylska, she was dubbed by one of the actresses also playing in the film…
Again as in the previous post with Sourdough Breads, I’m giving you the links to the recipes for nice white breads I’ve tried recently. The breads are from three countries – two recipes from Italy, one from Greece and one from Sweden. I twisted them a bit in the Russian style, though, but not that much. For more white (and brown) bread recipes, look at this page where I assemble all the recipes that appeared on my blog – I’ve tried them and changed some of them, so you can trust these recipes.
Lot no. 1
This is Italian-Style Bread from cookistry.blogspot.com. Will make two lovely crusty baguettes!
Lot no. 2
Welcome Italian Tuscan Bread from www.wildyeastblog.com. Will result in two amazing crunchy dense loaves.
Lot no. 3
Here is Swedish Cardamom Bread from www.mydiversekitchen.com. The aroma of this spice will fill up your kitchen, especially when you cut it! mmmmmmm! I used less sugar and added poppy seeds on the top instead of more sugar, cause my family prefer plain bread to sweet for their breakfast.
Lot no. 4
This is Greek Raisin Bread (Σταφιδόψωμο) from one of my favourite sources for inspiration kalofagas.ca. The loaves were crusty, not over-sweet (as I also added much less raisins).
This is it!
See you, well, later=)