I began to play a game with myself…Picturing myself in a dacha surrounded by prickly gooseberry bushes, I’d mentally preserve and pickle the tastes and smells of my Soviet socialist past in an imaginary three-litre jar.
In went the Order of Lenin Red October chocolate bars with a mirthful kid on the wrapper. In went the scarlet-wrapped Bolshevik Factory Jubilee Biscuits, the one’s that dissolved so poignantly when dipped in tea from a yellow packet adorned with an elephant.
Anna von Bremzen’s Mastering the Art of Soviet Cookery is a fascinating and increasingly melancholy look at the development of Soviet Russia through Anna’s family history and her and her mother’s food memories. Starting with a Czarist feast of blinis “as plump as the shoulders of a merchant’s daughter” (Chekhov) and running up till the vodka rebellions of Gorbachev’s final years and splintering of the USSR its a total page turner.
I’d no idea that Stalin – in a brief moment of generosity – sent his food minister to 1930s America, with the result that the socialist dream in late 30s Moscow was for every child to have a hamburger, ketchup and Pepsi, and that Khrushchev’s obsession with corn was also a legacy of Prairie dreams. Nor that the Russian emigrees to 20s Paris created a new kind of French cuisine. This book came via a recommendation on The Captive Reader blog, so go and check that out for more goodies too.
Love this 60s shot by Donovan of famous London hat shop Locke’s. Photo via @disraeli81’s feed.
The Music Room, Lancaster – a converted summer pavilion built in the 1730s and showing the muses, Apollo and various Roman emperors around the wall.
All photos from a visit, May 2018.
The Villa Massimo, images from Simon Martin’s Instagram feed.
A tile in the British Museum collection that makes me want to be in their Assyrian galleries again soon.
Another top Google banner, this time of the archetypal Art Deco painter, de Lempicka.
The butterfly house in Williamson Park, one of those classic late Victorian hothouses for the public.
All photos May 2018.
A new artist to me, but one that reminded me I wanted to read Alyssa Cole’s “An Extraordinary Union”
If Google’s user customisation means that their search engine banners are becoming a permanent rotation of amazing women, then I’m fine with that. Maria Reiche was a mathematician and archaeologist, who seems have to have been the same kind of enterprising character as Dorothy Carrington a few days ago.