Friday, July 1, 2011

A Russian Movie and Some Russian Food

I went to see the movie 'My Perestroika' with my sister Sooz. The movie follows five Russian people from childhood during Soviet communism to the present day in Russia.
This little movie made me crave the Russian foods that I love - beets, carrots, potatoes, onions, dill, cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes. So I came home and made some "Russian food": roasted chicken and vegetables.

This is what I made for dinner when we got home from the movie:
Roasted Beets with Orange Butter
Carrots with Dill
Roasted Mushrooms
Paprika Roasted Chicken
Roasted cabbage wedges
Beet greens and stems with onions

For some reason, I am completely fascinated with Russia, and especially the Soviet Union. I just want to know everything I can about ordinary life in Russia. I don't know why I am so drawn to Russia - and why I get so emotional when I see and hear stories, films, and pictures of Russia.

I saw a documentary on PBS a long time ago, that followed some children in the Soviet Union, filming the same children every few years. And then after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they found the same children and filmed how they were doing. During the time of the Soviet Union, the children lived pretty happy lives, and seemed to me to be much more innocent and sheltered than American children. Even though their families had a lower standard of living than typical Americans (living in crowded urban apartments, for example, and having very simple toys and other belongings), they seemed to have a wealth of stability, family closeness, and time in nature. Almost all families in Russia spend a considerable amount of time every year in the country at "daschas" - small cabins and property in the country, where they grow gardens and fruit trees, swim and hike and enjoy nature.

When I was a teenager, I loved the book and movie Dr. Zhivago. I think I saw that movie (the one with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie) at least 10 times in high school. I used to cut school and take the bus to Philadelphia to watch it on the big screen of a fancy movie theater, one that had balconies, velvet curtains with gold ropes and tassels, and a huge chandelier. I would cry and cry and cry. I loved the part when Alec Guiness, the narrator would say, "nobody loves poetry like a Russian."

I once had a job as a cook in a Russian restaurant in Berkeley called Petruschka. The menu had lots of beets and potatoes and dill and sour cream.

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