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Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' a Gift to Young Housewives (Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian & East European Studies) Hardcover – November 1, 1992


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Cookbooks for Your Thanksgiving Feasts
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Product Details

  • Series: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian & East European Studies
  • Hardcover: 708 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Annotated edition (November 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253360269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253360267
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.6 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Banned in Molokhovets's native country since the Russian Revolution, this gastronomic standard for pre-Revolutionary upper- and middle-class Russian households has been impressively translated and edited by food historian and Harvard research associate Toomre. Translations of more than 1000 recipes recall foods central to Russian life: cabbage with butter and crumbs, potato pudding, Beef Stroganov, babas , piroq , pashka . Toomre's substantive introduction presents ``not a history of Russian cooking per se, but rather an impressionistic reconstruction of household conditions.'' She charts a range of elements, from the purpose of each of the four or five daily meals and the sleeping conditions of servants to the once privileged status of the potato. Toomre also assesses the influences of foreign peoples, such as the techniques of the French and the foods of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as modern approximations for arcane measurements. Much more than a re-creation of a lost time or a rumination on changing culinary tastes, this book is an important contribution to Russian history. Illustrations not seen by PW.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Joyce Toomre ... has accomplished an enormous task, fully on a par with the original author's slave labor. Her extensive preface and her detailed and entertaining notes are marvelous." - Tatyana Tolstaya, New York Review of Books "Classic Russian Cooking is a book that I highly recommend. Joyce Toomre has done a marvelous job of translating this valuable and fascinating source book. It's the Fanny Farmer and Isabella Beeton of Russia's 19th century." - Julia Child, Food Arts "This is a delicious book, and Indiana University Press has served it up beautifully." - Russian Review " ... should become as much of a classic as the Russian original ... dazzling and admirable expedition into Russia's kitchens and cuisine."- Slavic Review "It gives a delightful and fascinating picture of the foods of pre-Communist Russia." - The Christian Science Monitor --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
So far I did not have a chance to see an American version of Madame Molokhovet's, only the Russian one. But since probably nobody knows about this book in US, and I turned out to be the first one to review it, I have to "break the ground" and drop a couple of lines.
The original version, first published at the end of the XIXth century, had a goal to help young middle-class housewives covering a wide range of issues from hiring servants to shopping for the house. The recipes were only a part of what can be called an "encyclopedia on running the house".
During the Soviet times there was almost no opportunity to use it because it was almost impossible to buy the ingredients. However, the book was still fun to read. It gives a good picture of the Russian culture of the time.
The recipe part (of the original version) is very thorough and understandable. However, most of the dishes require considerable time, exquisite ingredients and, in many cases, help of another person. However, trying them pays off, for they help you to discover REAL Russian cuisine, very different from "chicken-Kiev" and other tourist traps.
I would recommend this book to those who love Russia, are interested in Russian culture and like to cook something very unconventional. Very curious to see the American version.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on December 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
My grandmother immigrated to Canada from Russia well over a century ago and lived to the age of 104. With her she brought many authentic Russian recipes, but alas, they remained in her head and not on paper. This cookbook comes very close to the recipes I, as a child, can remember her preparing. Yes, it is true, that some aspects of the recipes found here are lost in the translation, particularly when it comes to measurements; however, in reality, that is how my grandmother, and many Russian homemakers in her time, prepared a meal. There was no such thing as a teaspoon of this or a cup of that. Accurate meansurements would have meant nothing to my grandmother, for like many immigrants in the 1800's she had little scholastic education. Her education came from the "school of hard knocks" and life's experiences. Measurements included "a little of this a small handful of that." I can remember her placing three fingers in a small cup and when the liquid reached the top, that was how much one used. Confusing? Yes, for the traditional chef, it would be. However, as one becomes experienced with Russian cooking, the delicious recipes found here will not seem like such a challenge to prepare - trial and error is often the best way of learning.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. L. Dickerson on September 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
The title of the book is misleading. IT IS NOT a translation of ELENA MILOKHOVET's famous book. It is ONLY selections from the great book. This is so small a part of the book, I can only give 3 stars. The Classic Russian Cooking is a shadow of the Russian original. It is a nice addition for those who have the Art of Russian Cuisine. Until this great cookbook is 100% translated, I recommend The Art of Russian Cuisine by Anne Volokh for those wanting to learn classic Russian cooking.

I wait a full translation of Elena Molokhovet's "A Gift to Young Housewives". The limited parts translated are well done. It is a real shame that this book is only selections.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm really just beginning with this book, but it is already frustrating. Some reasons: Measurements are given oddly, like 1/2 pound flour, 2 glasses water. There will be an instruction to "bake" without mention of temperature or time. There will often be ingredients in the list which are not mentioned in the instructions. It seems to me that it was written as a technical reference for someone that already knew what they were doing in this cuisine. I strongly recommend that in future editions there be some editing and clarification done along with translation.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Linguaphile on January 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I found this book recommended to me by my Russian professor, and after eating at a Russian dinner hosted by my university's Russian club, I decided I really had to have this book. It has an excellent introduction which covers a large variety of topics on Russian cooking through the years. Another thing I like about it is that it uses mainly ingredients that are commonly available today. Although a few of the ingredients used are highly unusual today (like dried backbone of a fish), they appear in relatively few of the recipies. I am anticipating cooking recipies from it!
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