What’s Cooking in the Kremlin: From Rasputin to Putin, How Russia Built an Empire with a Knife and Fork by Witold Szabłowski (Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) - review by Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews

Feeding the Great Bear

What’s Cooking in the Kremlin: From Rasputin to Putin, How Russia Built an Empire with a Knife and Fork

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A decent cultural and political history of France or Italy could be written through a study of the country’s cuisine. But Russia has never held culinary tradition to be definitive of its identity or civilisation. To be revealing or meaningful, any such look at a country has to be through something that it considers important to its culture. In Russia, that could be writers or music – or prisons. But food? Not so much.

In What’s Cooking in the Kremlin, Polish journalist Witold Szabłowski sets out to paint a picture of Russia through a series of food-related stories drawn from various periods of its history. The book begins with a portrait of the last tsar’s chef (who died with his master in the execution

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