Exceedingly Flavorful Chaos – Baked Wontons

“Where are the hornless dragons which carry bears on their backs for sport? Where is the great serpent with nine heads and where is the Shu-Hu?” (Zhuangzi ca. 3rd-2nd centuries BCE). The dragon, it seems, is right here, but both Shu and Hu have gone visiting. Their host is none other than Mr Chaos, as Confucius…

The Rivers of Exile: Nine-Day Pie

Traveling through the streets of Paris with his entourage, Napoleon passed a synagogue and heard heart-wrenching wailing from within. “Why are my Jews crying? – asked the emperor, – What happened to them? “Sire, – rushed an aide-de-camp, “they are lamenting the destruction of their Temple.” “What? Their Temple was destroyed and nobody told me?…

Only Good Words for Savory Cupcakes

In a wonderful Russian play of the 60’s about love, kindness, and caring, there was a line that bothered me: “Even a cat appreciates a good word.” I could never understand the word “even” in this phrase  – why “even a cat”? What about dogs? Birds? People, after all? My grandmother, may she rest in…

Kolobok, Kolobok, from the Grandma I Escaped…

Once upon the time, in a magical land of great forests, Onion Domes and warrior princes, there lived an old couple, Grandma and Grandpa. One day, Grandpa says to Grandma, “Bake me a pie.” “With what? – sighs the old woman, – we have nothing.” “Sweep the cupboards, scratch the bins, let’s see what you…

Florentine Omelette for an Unlucky Queen

What an unlucky queen Mary Stuart was! Losing her father when she was only six days old, the baby queen was sent off to France at the age of five, to be married to a three-year old Dauphin Francis, the heir to the French throne. The actual marriage between the two little kids had to…

Meatless Meat Pies

Two teenage boys meet and strike a friendship that lasts for decades. One of them, small and quick, with a sly smile and a witty word, is running around a Moscow marketplace peddling meat pies. The other one, tall and gangly, is strolling through the market followed by a small entourage of richly attired older…

Five-Layer Healthy Dinner

What a silly statement! As if I would knowingly, deliberately feed you something unhealthy? No, Beautiful People, these statements are screaming at you from almost every packaged product nowadays. Before I get to my – hopefully! – healthy recipe, I’d like to introduce you to a great blogger. Please meet Anna and read her very…

Kartofel’niki – Sweet Potato Zrazy with Mushrooms

Of all my historical anecdotes, this one is, probably, the most outrageous. Catherine the Medici, the Dowager Queen of France, mother of a succession of three kings, spared no expense (and no intrigue!) to secure kingdoms for all her boys. When the throne of Poland became available, she bought it for her favorite son, the…

Mushroom Barley Soup

Traditional Jewish comfort food, with history more ancient and undoubtedly more venerable than the ubiquitous “Jewish penicillin” – chicken soup, Mushroom Barley soup was served in my family during the holiday of Sukkos, the final one of the series of High Holidays. The end of October – beginning of November was already pretty chilly, so…

Curried Mushrooms

Why did people in Ancient Egypt call mushrooms “the plant of immortality”? Did they truly believe that eating mushrooms would make them immune to human frailties, deceases, and ultimately, departing this world? Not really. They never had a chance to see for themselves because the pharaohs loved mushrooms so much that they declared it royal…