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Cabbage and Caviar

A History of Food in Russia

When people think of Russian food, they generally think either of the opulent luxury of the tsarist aristocracy or of post-Soviet elites, signified above all by caviar, or on the other hand of poverty and hunger—of cabbage and potatoes and porridge. Both of these visions have a basis in reality, but both are incomplete. The history of food and drink in Russia includes fasts and feasts, scarcity and, for some, at least, abundance. It includes dishes that came out of the northern, forested regions and ones that incorporate foods from the wider Russian Empire and later from the Soviet Union. Cabbage and Caviar places Russian food and drink in the context of Russian history and shows off the incredible (and largely unknown) variety of Russian food.

352 pages | 63 color plates, 49 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Foods and Nations

Food and Gastronomy

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"This engrossing book—suitable for the old hand and the tenderfoot—shows that Russia's food history is far more complex, quirky, and entertaining."

Caroline Eden | Times Literary Supplement

"Smith’s book is part of a series on ‘Foods and Nations’. To make her account of Russian food accessible to a wider readership, she summarises developments in Russian and Soviet social, political, economic, cultural and environmental history... the book shows that Russia’s food history is a lens through which to view its larger history."

Environment and History

“At a moment when Russian cuisine is ascendant—with critically acclaimed restaurants, celebrity chefs, and popular cookbooks—there is no better guide to its thousand-year history than Smith’s Cabbage and Caviar. In a book that is both erudite and accessible, Smith again shows herself to be one of the world’s foremost scholars of Russian food and drink.”

Stephen V. Bittner, author of “Whites and Reds: A History of Wine in the Lands of Tsar and Commissar”

“Smith's overview of Russia's food history, spanning several centuries, will be useful to readers encountering this topic for the first time, as well as culinary historians interested in the evolution of Russian cuisine.”

Sharon Hudgins, author of “T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East”

“A sumptuous survey of twelve centuries of Russian history through the prism of food, Cabbage and Caviar offers up a brilliant account of eating, drinking, and food producing through the ages. With her analysis of the worlds of princes, peasants, townsfolk, and commissars, Smith shows how foodways both blurred and reinforced social distinctions, whether in in times of aspirational plenty or of tragic famine. A feast for the eyes as well as the culinary imagination, Smith’s book treats us to mouth-watering recipes and a vivid appreciation for the richness and diversity of Russia’s everyday life.”

Diane P. Koenker, Director and Professor of Russian and Soviet History, University College London

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