November sees the release of Academic Studies Press’s long-anticipated Russian Cuisine in Exile. Translated into English from the original Russian, Russian Cuisine in Exile defies genre to present an exploration of what it meant to be a Russian émigré in the 1980s.

Made up of humorous cultural essays and interspersed with traditional Russian recipes, the book explores the connection food has to culture, both at large and specifically émigré, whilst providing an amusing look at the intersection between Russian life and the American cultural landscape in which the original writers, Pyotr Vail and Alexander Genis, found themselves existing.

The original Russian text became a staple of émigré communities and Soviet residents alike, and this new English translation features extensive commentary by the translators and editors, Angela Brintlinger and Thomas Feerick, allowing an entirely new community access to a funny, contemplative, and instructive book that is filled with glimpses of what it means to be Russian, regardless of where you are in the world.

In celebration of the book’s publication, we tried to recreate one of the classic Russian recipes that the book provides instruction on – one that the whole Eurospan office might be on board with! Our choice was the sharlotka, an indulgent dessert not unlike a bread and butter pudding. If you’re feeling braver, though, traditional recipes throughout include mushroom meatballs, chicken broth, the perfect garlic aioli, and the most Russian dish of them all – cabbage soup!

Sharlotka seemed to be an obvious choice for a wintery Monday at the Eurospan office – sweet, hearty, and perfect with a cup of tea. There’s also a recipe for the proper way to make tea included in the book as well, just in case you needed a refresher! Judging by the empty tray in the kitchen, Vail and Genis were on to a winner with this staple dessert…

And as Vail and Genis summarise themselves: “Of course, no one gets skinny eating sharlotka. And they say that eating a lot of bread is harmful. On the other hand, life is generally a harmful thing — after all, it always leads to death. But once you’ve eaten a piece of sharlotka, that inevitable destination seems somehow less frightening.”

Russian Cuisine in Exile from Academic Studies Press is available to order in paperback on the Eurospan bookstore.