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The Roots
I grew up in Russia and Belarus. Growing up, I would spend my summers in two locations — first half with my Belarusian grandparents in a small village near Minsk and the rest in the big city of Kazan where my Tatar grandparents lived. Both grannies loved cooking, and both inspired me a lot. Tatar cuisine is based on the fact that your house should always have guests, and if it doesn’t have guests at the moment, that only means that they either left or are about to call in, so the motto is: bake bake bake! Tatar cuisine is famous for its pies, for example, small triangles — pies with meat, potatoes, and onion as a filling and the most important part: butter, so with my love for the French cuisine and its obsession with butter, I could say was born there and then, with my granny adding small cubes in every triangle for the better taste, or a bunch of sweet pies with fillings that work so well together, you should be careful not to bite your own fingers while eating it.
Beautiful power of Belarusian women
My Belarusian granny would teach me various meals for special celebratory events. She’d make a special sequence for All Saints day, or Christmas. In Belarus villages when there is a celebration — a wedding or christening — the whole village will gather to cook a celebratory meal. And since the village was really small, all of the wonderful women in the kitchen would be my relatives. It was pure joy and magic to watch my granny, her sisters, and my aunts gather in the kitchen, slowly cutting vegetables, making meatballs, and chatting away. The talks could be about cows and how much milk they give and quickly switch to poetry and then slowly flow into discussions of various herbs that can be added to a dish to make it better. The most wonderful feeling was when they would start singing old Belarusian songs. You would feel the electricity, the power of these beautiful hard working women, their energy. I didn’t learn how to cook there — I learnt how to hear and understand the food, know your ingredients, almost like notes in music know which chords will work better.
Jun 01, 2021
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