Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Borshch marathon

I made Borshch again and I made my family happy.

Over the years, I've translated our family Borshch recipe. I've posted it. I've used it to illustrate lectures in my folklore course. I've ranted about it. And of course, I've cooked it innumerable times.

My own recipe has at least 4 variations.

It's the quintessential recipe of the Russian cook. However faithfully you follow your teacher's instructions (whoever your teacher may be -- grandmother, mother, aunt, cousin, friend, even cookbook) it will never taste the same as the original. It's one of those country recipes that take on the spirit of the cook and reflect the cook's qualities in the flavor and the body.

Don't ask me what it means. Taste someone's Borshch and learn from them, and then try to duplicate it. Right away, it will be Borshch (not borsht), but it will be yours, not the original.

Why? I don't know.

Maybe because chopping the onions into 3mm chunks instead of 4mm chunks makes a difference. Or not. Because I've substituted potatoes for beans and back again, depending on my mood and what was in the pantry -- and it was still MY Borshch (not borsht), unmistakably, and I choose the meat according to what looks best in the meat department, not by name or price. It's usually a roast, though.

This is the magic of traditional recipes.

They're fluid, none any more right than others, but some are still "righter" than others.

No, I'm not posting the recipe here. Maybe, once I finally (SIGH) solve my site issues the recipe will appear there once again (shortly, so be on the lookout), but I won't leave it on my blog.

It's MINE. MINE, I'm telling you.

I'd rather feed you than tell you. I'd rather teach you and show you, than tell you and leave it to languish in the archives of a blog.

A traditional recipe is a living thing.


Anonymous said...

I'd be very happy if you fed me. I've had your borshch several times--YUMMY. Your family is lucky. I hope they know that! Anna

SFWriterMasha said...

They were enjoying the borshch. I'd love to feed you. There's a part of me that's totally un-Western that loves to feed people. Do stay in touch with TU's Russian program because present and past members are welcome to the parties!

I hadn't thought to mention it on FB... Should do that next time.