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How Slavic Became the Flavor of the Moment

11.11.2016 Posted in Cooking, Food No Comments

Fermented, foraged, whole-grain and invigoratingly herbal, the flavors of the moment are straight out of Central and Eastern Europe. Why does this old-world food seem so right-now? (published in The Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-slavic-became-the-flavor-of-the-moment-1478110466) SUPER BOWL | Silesian dumplings in carrot broth (kluski slaskie), served at Apteka in Pittsburgh. PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, FOOD STYLING BY SARAH KARNASIEWICZ, PROP STYLING BY CARLA GONZALEZ-HART By SARAH KARNASIEWICZ Updated Nov. 2, 2016 3:48 p.m. ET 30 COMMENTS STICK-TO-YOUR RIBS stews, vegetables simmered into submission, doughy dumplings as chubby and pale as a child’s fist: Mention Eastern European food to most Americans, and these are the images they’ll conjure. Never mind that at its largest, the U.S.S.R. covered one-sixth of the earth’s land, swallowing spice routes and diverse empires that were sustained by much more than pork and potatoes. Twenty-five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union—and with more than 14 million Russian, Ukrainian and Polish Americans among us—popular notions of Slavic food have remained largely frozen in amber. SEE THE RECIPES Blame it on cultural baggage: The Slavic penchant for hospitality has always been most vigorously practiced at home, and the privations of life behind the Iron Curtain during most of the last century hardly made for a robust restaurant culture. Nevertheless, a new generation of stateside chefs is embracing Central and Eastern European ingredients and techniques, putting fresh—dare I say hip?—spins on a colorful cuisine that ranges far beyond stereotypical babushka cooking. At Apteka, a modern Polish restaurant […]

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Icons of Modern Arts: the Shchukin Collection – at the LV Foundation – A perfect excuse to come to Paris

24.10.2016 Posted in Art No Comments

Icons of Modern Arts: the Shchukin Collection -an exhibition currently held at the LV Foundation in Paris and a perfect excuse to come to Paris. In Paris, in the Louis Vuitton Foundation opened the exhibition “Icons of Modernism. Shchukin Collection”. This extraordinary exhibition highlighting around 150 masterpieces  (Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Renoir and many other world renowned painters) opened to the public on October 22 and goes on until the end of February. One of the greatest world collections of French art is reunited together for the first time in 90 years since Shchukin has left the mansion at Znamenka in 1918 after which his collection has been nationalised by the Soviet state.  To get a preview of a preparation for the exhibiton here is the video installation by Peter Greenaway & his wife.  The 478 page catalogue  is available in French, English & Russian (49,90 €) and includes forwards by Francois Hollande, Vladimire Poutine, Bernard Arnault, the great grandchildren Arielle Badou and André-Marc Delocque-Fourcauld who spent years compiling data on the great Russian merchant & collector (http\://www.collectionchtchoukine.com). For more information about the exhibition: http\://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/expositions/icones-de-l-art-moderne-la-collection-chtchoukine.html  

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First ever Biography of Angelica Balabanoff – extract from the book

24.06.2016 Posted in Writing No Comments

Had she ever been married? Or had kids? Was she really a mistress of Lenin, Mussolini, Trotsky and Stalin? Was Edda Mussolini, the eldest daughter of the infamous dictator, her daughter? Angelica’s life was full of mysteries and unexplainable events. Born in Chernigov, a small town in the Northeastern part of the Ukraine which at the time was part of the Russian Empire, she rebelled against her well-off merchant family and their traditional values, disagreeing from the age of 5 with the rules of upbringing imposed on the girls of her social milieu. She broke with her family when she became a young woman, refused the family inheritance and, after being cursed by her mother, left for Western Europe to live with the poor and ease their lives. She never saw her mother and most of her siblings again. After completing her graduate education, Angelica quickly became one of the primary female lecturers in Europe. The first person to discover, educate and form the future Il Duce, she was also a close acquaintance of Lenin and Trotsky during their exile in Switzerland, stood next to them as their equal in the ‘all macho’ Soviet government after the Russian Revolution and became Lenin’s most trusted agent, whom he sent on secret missions vitally important for the young Soviet State. Disillusioned with the Revolution, Angelica was possibly the only high-ranked official in Russian history who left the country legitimately without being prosecuted. Rejected by many friends and colleagues, she became an anti-communist […]

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Looking Ahead to a Russian Centennial

25.03.2016 Posted in History, Writing 2 Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that  my biography of Angelica Balabanoff The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel will be published at the end of April by McFarland Publishers. To mark this pulication I decided to devote my blog to Angelica, her friends, passtime and recipes. I hope you liked my previous articles within the series “Red Rebels” about her friends Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others, about Angelica writing poems in five languages and the recipe of the only meal she could make – an omelet. No doubt an important event in Angelica’s live was the October Revoltuion of 1917. The first part of her life has been devoted to organising this event, while during the second part of her life she became dissilutioned with it and devoted the rest of her life to fighting it and what was going on in her country. In about 18 months Russia will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution. It will certainly be an occasion  to arouse controversy and emotion. The Revolution was one of the defining moments of the 20th Century. It brought the establishment of a Communist regime, millions lost their lives or fled their homes to go and live overseas.  It is not yet certain how Russia’s contemporary leaders will mark the centennial. During the Cold War, the Soviet government ensured that its revolutionary victory was celebrated as a most important holiday supported by the media and the entire population. Today in Russia many […]

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Angelica’s pass time – writing poems in 5 languages

26.02.2016 Posted in Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in March, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite pass time (see previous article Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (varenije)). It was in the 1920s that Angeica has first started to write poems. She felt that poems helped her express her feelings, cope with her misfortunes and brighten her life. Gifted for langauges she composed in five languages, translating her own poems in all five of them. Her talent did not pass unnoticed making headlines and caricatures in the New York press at the end of the 1930s. Angelica was probably not the most talented poet. However her poems served at least two great reasons. Firstly, they made her fell better and helped her to go through years of hardships. Secondly, they were of great help to me as her biographer, providing a better insight into her feelings, life and events which she had often tried to conceal. In the poem “There is no Sunshine, no Happiness at all in my Bereaved Soul”, written after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1921, disillusioned with the October Revolution of the 1917, she confessed: “My Soul Is burning into thirst of liberty for all; My Soul Is longing for a […]

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Angelica’s recipes – Ideal Meal on a Budget

12.02.2016 Posted in Cooking, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff at McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite recipes. In point of fact, Angelica did not cook. She was not even interested in food. For the majority of her life she was a vegetarian. Nonetheless, food played an important role in her existence. She used food to fight bourgeois traditions, which was the main battle of her life. My first blog post about Angelica’s recipes was devoted to her favorite food – cheese sandwiches. This one is about the only dish she could make – an omelet. All her life Angelica rented small rooms, moving every two years to a new place. And if the rooms had cooking facilities (which was not always the case), she had a pan to make omelets. I have already made an omelet to honor Angelica in my blog of July 10, 2015. Today’s omelet is not an ordinary one. It is an omelet she used to make when she lived on a low budget in Paris in the 1920s-1930s and when ” An omelet of two eggs beaten with a bit of bread soaked in milk was a royal and rare meal.” To make it I got: 2 free-range eggs, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 2 […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Mollie Steimer

26.06.2015 Posted in History, Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series “Red Rebels” about Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others. Here is a story of another exceptional woman, Mollie Steimer. As with the previous heroines, I came across Mollie while writing my book, a biography of Angelica Balabanoff, due to be published by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. Due to the lack of space I was unable to write about her in my book. I would not say that Mollie is my heroine. I do not share her ideas. She was an ardent anarchist and some people suffered because of her believes. Nonethelss, her life was most impressive. She stood for her ideas until the end. No matter how hard it could get and no matter where or how she lived. She ended up “creating” her own extraordinary fate, making it a rare and unusual event which so many of us try to do and so few of us achieve. Mollie Steimer (1897 – 1980) was born as Marthe Alperine in the Ukraine. Mollie moved to the US at the age of 15, becoming an anarchist and free-speech campaigner. After aggressive anarchist behavior directed against the US policy in Russia and their support of the Tsarist army during the Bolshevik Revolution she was first imprisoned and then deported back to her native land, arriving in Moscow on Dec 15, 1923. She quickly met a fellow anarchist Senya Fleshin (by then separated with Louise Berger I […]

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Angelica’s pass time – Montreux – Chateau de Chillon

3.07.2015 Posted in History, Writing 1 Comment

Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in September, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite pass time (see previous article Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (varenije)). Angelica was a natural born rebel. Born into a well-off family, since the age of 5 she rebelled against her family and decided to devote her life to helping the unprivileged. However, at first, during her childhood and adolescence she had no other choice than follow her family. Such as travel to luxurious resorts including regular autumn trips in Montreux (Switzerland). The family usually settled in an upscale hotel with a picturesque view of the azure Lake Geneva, cruising boats and Swiss Alps. On the program – walks along the scenic Riviera-style streets with cypresses, palms and flower beds full of lilies and dahlias and shopping. Angelica was unable to stroll idly for days at a time. So she enrolled into a language school for girls. Classes took most of the day which helped her to avoid long lunches on the terrasses of fine restaurants and shopping tours. Among the few escapades she agreed to was visiting the Chateau de Chillon, a medieval castle near the shores of Lake Geneva, made famous by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of […]