Russian Food since 1800: Empire at Table by Catriona Kelly

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In Russia, food has a hugely important role in political, symbolic, and practical terms. In this illuminating history of Russian food in the modern age, Catriona Kelly – a leading cultural historian and keen amateur cook – reflects on this and an environment where what you eat (and drink) indicates how patriotic you are.

Kelly argues that an expectation of 'feeding' is embedded in attitudes to the state as provider, and that rationing systems have traditionally replicated and even enforced social hierarchies. The book looks at how Russian food is intimately connected with family and friends, and was an important source of delight even in the Soviet period, when official culinary provision and practices ostensibly sought to promote nutrition above all, and food was often short. Russian Food since 1800 traces these complex and contradictory associations. It also examines various shifts in diet and cuisine over the last three centuries, including the ways in which old traditions such as pickling and jam-making sit alongside wider world influences from the vast imperial hinterland in the Baltic, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, as well as Western Europe and America.