Survivalist’s Menu: Borsch
An important warning – we are not going to (almost) argue about who owns the “primacy” in the creation of borscht. If you want to believe that this is a primordially Ukrainian product, please. You think that “Russia is the homeland of not only elephants, but also borscht” is wonderful. We are sure that the first was the Polish Barshch – as much as your heart desires. Because all of these are completely different dishes, created according to the above-mentioned principle of “folk soup”, just slightly similar in the ingredients used. And the only true, canonical, RIGHT borscht does not exist in nature. Including because before people did not think about standardization at all and, as I already told you, they threw everything that came to hand into the pan – just to make something edible. And sometimes they threw some pretty interesting things.
In the letters of the “icon of the Ukrainian people” – Taras Shevchenko (at the very beginning of the 19th century), addressed to his brother, Kobzar asked him to bring him to St. Petersburg a “real Chumak ram”, from which he could then make “real borscht”. But would you use dried fish for this dish now? Hardly.
Monument of Russian literature of the 16th century – “Domostroy” – directly indicated to put beets, cabbage and cow parsnip into the soup. No, not the one that is invasive of “Sosnovsky”, but the usual one. The only difference between them is that in “usual” there is less of the chemically active muck that causes burns. But would you now add this ingredient to “traditional Russian borscht”? I don’t think so.
Recipes for the “folk soup” of the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (XIII century and beyond) implied the use of beet kvass. Dilute a little with water, bring to a boil, and then add some vegetables, salt and pepper. Beets are a must. However, not everywhere. The same “traditional Ukrainian borscht” on the territory of Polesie, where beets grew relatively poorly, did without it. Would you cook this dish based on fermented vegetables? We remind you that the fermentation process is a complicated thing, and the result is not necessary over and over again.
And these are all “traditional recipes”. Agree, they are somewhat different from what we used to call borscht. But the differences can even be in the form of cutting vegetables – which affects the final texture and impression, both in the form of seasonings, and in the features of broths (which is canonical – vegetable, chicken, mushroom or beef?), And for a number of other parameters.
So it’s pointless to argue about who first came up with this dish. Studying all these different recipes in the context of the art of survival is extremely useful.
Fermented beets, ram, and dried hogweed, ordinary vegetables, and dried porcini mushrooms (this is from the Lithuanian cuisine already) are all products of long-term storage. The very ones for which we are addicted, connoisseurs of the art of survival. And it is they who make this dish so convenient and healthy.
Are there prunes? Great – it will give the dish such an obligatory sourness instead of tomato paste / beet kvass or tomatoes. Are there any dried beans? Well, soak it for a day, then use it during cooking to add the protein that he needs so much to the dish, if there are no meat components. There is a turnip, which replaced the ancient Slavs with potatoes in most dishes – even better – there will be a place for it in your “borscht of survival”.
Therefore, improvise. The art of survival is therefore an art, which implies the varied use of everything that comes to hand. And if the result is a delicious red soup with beets, then you can safely call it “borscht” and eat without remorse.
By the way about. The author of these lines is a great connoisseur of borscht – in any catering establishment or restaurants of national cuisine, he first of all orders this particular dish. And I’ve seen many varieties that are seriously different from each other. But you know, I have never seen a completely unpalatable (or one that sour cream / pepper / additional spices could not fix) version, and this, IMHO, is the main criterion for successful cooking.
Well, if you think that it was your ancestors who invented “Real Borscht tm”, And all sorts of foreigners took this wisdom and perverted it – this is your right. Only then do not forget that you will now have to cook it according to the precepts of your ancestors, in clay pots, stirring with a wooden spoon 5 times clockwise and 5 times against, adding cow parsnip, dried fish, chicken offal and fragments of an extinct Siberian mammoth – emphasize the necessary. And do not dare to break the “holy covenants”! And we will prefer our “non-canonical” situational borscht – from whatever comes to hand. According to the precepts of folk cuisine – a real kitchen of survival.