Posted by / 20 July 2017 /

Salat Olivier (Russian Potato Salad) #cookthebooks

The selection for Cook the Books Club was Anya von Bremzen's Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food & Longing.  I can't say I loved the book, I kept losing the story of interest to me in the deluge of Russian history as seen by the author as a child, teen and grown up. What I did love, however, was the role that food, or the lack of it, played in her life. 

What I loved about the book was the apparent deep connection that the author has with her mother and how they developed their relationship over food. This resonates with me, as I am often asking my mom to share recipes from my childhood with me.  I give kudos to Simona from briciole for this book selection!

Salat Olivier

The food descriptions in the book were detailed and delightful.  During the period she describes, however, there is almost nothing eatable to describe.  She describes that "classical Russian food culture vanished."  Then she does what I love best about memoirs, by talking about childhood memories of foods that make up her childhood, such as the salat Olivier that I recreate here.  

Salat Olivier
I added the mayo details that were described in the book!
I eagerly race to the end of the book, hoping to see that Putin had brought back the Soviet food scene, but she devotes little time to Putin in her book.  I had hoped she would have an opinion on where the food culture is now in Russia and where it might be headed.

It was an easy choice for me to choose this dish.  First, my maiden name is Oliver and our family loves my mom's potato salad.  It has a similar base of potatoes, boiled eggs and mayo.  We like our mayo on the tart side as well, so we use Duke's.

Salat Olivier (as envisioned by Terri Steffes)

1 lb new potatoes, boiled and quartered
4 hardboiled eggs, quartered
1 can peas, drained
1 can petite shrimp, drained
1/2 c mayo (Dukes or other tangy mayo, not sweet)
2 T chopped dill pickle
2 T chopped cucumber
salt and pepper
1 T dill weed

Combine ingredients and taste for seasoning.  Salt and pepper as desired.  Refrigerate until well chilled, taste before serving, adjust seasoning.

We loved this with our dinner of pork roast and summer tomatoes and corn.  I was happily surprised at how good this odd combination of foods was.  I would definitely make it again.



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