salad Olivier
January 3, 2018 11:36 AM   Subscribe

This is a wonderful article; thank you for posting it. I appreciate the second link; I had heard of Salad Olivier but herring-under-a-fur-coat is completely new to me. Also, there is a picture of a Napoleon cake here; it's not difficult to find that recipe on line.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 11:59 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Herring under a fur coat looks pretty tasty, actually... I wonder if they have it at any of the Russian restaurants nearby... is it purely a holiday time dish?
posted by Grither at 12:05 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Oooh...they have it at the Russian Vodka Room apparently!
posted by Grither at 12:12 PM on January 3

If you've got a Russian restaurant (or a Russian grocery or deli), it's a pretty common thing.

Salad Olivier is a glorious thing that I know about because my wife taught me to make the family version. Any halfway decent Russian deli will have it, but the deli versions are weird homogenous things and the core recipe can be vastly improved by tailoring it to personal taste.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 12:37 PM on January 3

Great read...
posted by jim in austin at 12:49 PM on January 3

a merry green avalanche, the only round shape in the kingdom of cubes


I'm puzzled by what was hard to get vs. what they could apparently reliably get. In my cool-climate experience, peas are a more reliable crop than cucumbers and they're easy to can. So why could they make homemade pickles but not homemade canned peas? And they seem to have eggs worth cooking with, and probably oil, so why not make the mayonnaise? There's so much determination and skill-gaining and trading, it seems well within material possibility. Maybe they were just too tired.

I have been guilty of thinking "they have X surely that is fungible with Y" about archaeological places, and this should remind me that it's harder than it looks from an armchair.

I still think Firefly is ludicrous in treating energy as cheap and vegetables as expensive. But there's a culture that lost the plow twice in modern times, so again, harder than it looks.
posted by clew at 12:50 PM on January 3

So why could they make homemade pickles but not homemade canned peas?

No pressure canner, maybe.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:04 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

The Wikipedia entry for the dish is delightful:

Also, this is delicious stuff, and can be made more delicious with more sour cream and less mayo. You can also add some cooked chicken to it.
posted by girl Mark at 1:05 PM on January 3

Also this is a Persian thing that I've encountered in Iranian restaurants/delis:
posted by girl Mark at 1:07 PM on January 3

Oh, how I love Salad Olivier. I had it first in Russia and now I'm lucky to get it on special occasions at the home of my friend who originally came from Soviet Ukraine. Sure, I can make it myself, but it's just so much chopping... She made it and that herring dish for her birthday last month. The herring dish - beets + herring + mayo? - was awful (sorry, Yana).
posted by kitcat at 1:15 PM on January 3

Great piece, thanks for posting it! I have to note that the sentence "The pathos-filled trio of Kremlin chimes signaled the countdown" is impossible to decode, because the Russian word пафос [páfos, from Greek πάθος) can mean, besides what we mean by "pathos" in English, 'enthusiasm, zeal,' 'spirit, emotional content' (as in пафос романа 'the spirit of a novel'), or 'bombast, saying things in an unnecessarily complicated/emotional way,' and people with Russian backgrounds tend to use the English word with the same range of meanings (as do translators from Russian, who should know better). Who knows what those chimes were filled with?

Also, you can't talk about Soviet New Year without a mention of The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (see this 2009 thread, which contains many other New Year traditions).
posted by languagehat at 3:12 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

My grandfather fled Russia during WWI, so I am not familiar with most of these dishes, but Holodets was a dish we often had, and I even know how to make it. It's not as healthy as that article makes it sound, because you eat it cold (with horseradish), so it needs double the salt and seasoning it would need if it was eaten warm. I made it once for a "heritage potluck" and no one would eat it. Meat jello does perhaps sound terrible.
posted by acrasis at 6:20 PM on January 3

Who knows what those chimes were filled with?

posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:53 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

I unfortunately have very little direct interaction with Russian culture, but when I saw the "mayonnaise" and "Soviet" together I immediately thought of Life of Boris (previously). The channel even has a recipe for Olivier salad: Russian potato salad (САЛАТ ОЛИВЬЕ).
posted by invokeuse at 9:03 PM on January 3

Pictures of Mayonnaise at an Exhibition?
posted by lagomorphius at 9:07 PM on January 3

I’m from a mixed Jewish/Christian family and my girlfriend is first-gen Russian, so between Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years the entire back half of my December is non-stop merriment. I’ve come to fall in love with all the mayonnaise-covered salads the holiday entails. Last weekend with her family, we had fourteen different dishes for six people. Of those, only four (cold tongue, assorted cheeses, a cucumber salad, and caviar on bread with butter) didn’t involve mayonnaise.

Herring in a fur coat (shuba, as it’s called in Russian) is easy to find at Russian grocery stores and restaurants year-round - like spiral ham in the US, it’s associated with the holiday but not exclusive to it. It’s also pretty easy to make yourself, though you should try and get Russian mayonnaise for the dish if you can; it’s sufficiently different from European and American mayonnaise to be worth seeking out (especially since there’s so much of it).
posted by Itaxpica at 9:47 AM on January 4

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