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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Lidia Dan

17.07.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series about the “Red Rebels” about Raya Dunaevskaya, Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni and others. Here is a story of a wonderful woman, whose name is completely forgotten today, Lidia Dan. As with the previous heroines, I came across Lidia Dan, 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 the book. Born in 1878 in Odessa, she was a sister of the leader of the Mensheviks, (who stood against Lenin and the Bolsheviks), Julius Martov, and the wife of a Menshevik Fyodor Dan. All her life she dreamt about a better future for her country first by supporting Lenin starting from the 1900s, a later when she was expelled from Russia in 1922 together with her brother and husband by fighting against him and the Bolsheviks. Though totally unknown compared to other female revolutionaries, she lived a brave and courageous life. She left behind very sweet, naïve and nonetheless most interesting memoires (in Russian, to read click here) about her early years when she lived together with Lenin, her family and other revolutionaries in Switzerland describing their daily routine, how they worked, what they ate, and what they did intheir free time. After leaving Russia she never got used to life in a foreign country leading a lonely and impoverished existence. […]

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Angelica’s Recipes – Beetroot Caviar

7.08.2015 Posted in Red Cooking, Red 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 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 two blog posts about Angelica’s recipes were devoted to her favorite food – cheese sandwiches and the only dish she could make – an omelet. This one is about the beetroot caviar. Beetroot caviar was  widely popular in Russia in the 19th century. There is little doubt that the dish was often made in Angelica’s house in Chniogov during her childhood while multiple recipes of beetroot caviar have been published in the 19-century cook books. This brilliant magenta puree dramatically elevates the humble beetroot. It’s simple and cheap to make, too. Use as a dip with warm blinis, cubes of dark, almost chocolatey rye bread, or any good crusty bread. Ingredients: Serves 4-5 225g fresh beetroot; 40g walnuts; 4 prunes, pitted; 1 1/2 tbsp brandy; 0.5 lemon; 1 garlic clove; Salt and black pepper; 100 ml sour cream or creme fraiche; 3g fresh dill;  Blinis or dark rye bread, to serve. 1 Preheat the oven to […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Alexandra Kollontai

14.08.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles within the series about the “Red Rebels” about Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni, Hugo Eberlein and others. I would like to say today a few words about Alexandra Kollontai. As with the previous heros, I came across her, 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 the book. Angelica and Alexandra have always been good friends. They have met in the early 1900s. They kept in touch for the rest of their lives and remained good friends  even after Angelica left Russia in 1921 disagreeing with Lenin’s politics of the Red Terror and becoming a persona non-grata and dangerous friend particularly for such a high-ranking apparatchik as Alexandra. Compared to many other “Red rebels” the name of the beautiful and liberated Alexandra is well-known. For a woman of her time, Alexandra (born in 1872 in St Petersburg) had a remarkable fate. Known for liberated views on sex and marriage, she divorced her husband; went to study political economics at the University of Zurich (one of the few universities in Europe which accepted women at the end of the 19th century), married for the second time to a man much younger than herself; a few men tried to commit suicide because of her; she was among a few high-ranked Soviet apparatchiks who have never been arrested and […]

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In the aftermath of terrible events in Paris – Yazidi women

27.11.2015 Posted in Red Lifestyle, Red Politics No Comments

In the aftermath of terrible events in Paris I came across an article about Yazidi women which many of you must have already seen.  Headed by a Yazidi singer, the Yazidi women formed an all-female fighting unit  to take revenge on ISIS for forcing their sisters into sexual slavery and beheading their brothers. The Sun Girls’ brigade was formed by the renowned Yazidi singer Xate Shingali. She  has 123 recruits aged between 17 and 30 who all want revenge on ISIS. They risk being murdered or held as sex slaves if they are caught by enemy. Even the youngest recruit, 17, is not worried about being captured in battle. ISIS has abducted and abused thousands of Yazidi girls from northern Iraq. The article made me think about the female fighters for freedom who will always stand out and make a difference not  matter what century or country we live in. Like women fighters during the Civil War in Barcelona in 1936. The whole world was impressed by their courage so much it was unusual to see women fightig together with men. More than 80 years later we continue to be impressed these time by the Yazidi women. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3197565/They-rape-kill-Yazidi-singer-forms-female-fighting-unit-revenge-ISIS-forcing-sisters-sexual-slavery-beheading-brothers.html#ixzz3sRSNNHbM Images @Owen Holdaway and <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />@DA Kobane A NOI<meta http-equiv=”X-Frame-Options” content=”DENY” />

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Dinner with Mussolini – Part I

30.10.2015 Posted in Red Cooking, Red 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 the Fall 2015, 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, her life, friends and favorite recipes. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about Angelica’s dinner with Lenin that took place in 1918 described by her in her memoirs My Life as a Rebel. In her book about Mussolini The Traiter Angelica mentioned a dinner she had with Mussolini in 1912. Two dinners with two greatest men of the 20th century. Both stunning by their simplicity. As a rule she was not interested in food. This time she went through the menu mentioning “… delicious macaroni with cheese, past’asciutta, house wine [for Mussolini] and water” for Angelica. Trying to put myself in Angelica’s shoes, even though I did not have anyone in front of me to act as Mussolini, I decided make both dishes. There are numerous recipes of Macaroni with Cheese. As I know that Angelica never had an oven, I opted for a basic stovetop recipe with no added chicken, ham or shrimps. Ingredients 1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 6 ounces) 1 cup 1% low-fat milk 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Preparation Cook pasta according […]

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Biography of Angelica Balabanoff – extract from the book

16.10.2015 Posted in Red 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 the Fall 2015, 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, her life, friends, recipes and extracts from my book. To start with here is an extract from the Introduction that gives  insight into the book. Let me know how you liked it. Introduction 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. … Her life might have seemed odd, eccentric and somber. Yet a few years before her death she wrote to her friend, Ella Wolfe, the wife of the American socialist, historian and writer, Bertram Wolfe, the words that depicted her personality better than any other: “Believe me, even if I had much money at my disposal I would not like to live better than I do now. It was the dream of my life – since my childhood, to share the sufferings and deprivations of the poorest among the poor. As a matter of fact it so happened that I never did – I lived also (please check this quote-it does not sound right. if this is exactly what she wrote in English, you […]

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The Baffling Fate of Edda Mussolini

18.09.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my previous articles with the series “Red Rebels” about Bianca Tosoni-Pittoni, Hugo Eberlein and others. Here is a story of an interesting woman, who was certainly a rebel though not exactly a red rebel, Edda Mussolini, the eldest daughter of the infamous Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 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. For a long time it was thought that Edda was a daughter of Angelica. Edda was born in 1910. When she was born her parents Rachel and Benito were not married. Her birth certificate stated: Mother unknown. As she was born during the time when Mussolini spent quite a bit of time with Angelica many thought that Edda was Angelica’s daughter and Rachele agreed to take care of her. Indeed Edda was a rebellious and interesting woman. She was one of the first women in Italy to drive a car and wear pants. She also openly confessed that her favorite writers were Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. She did not get along with her mother Rachele, a traditional Italian woman who stayed at home and did not enjoy being out in public and in her spirit resembled more Angelica. In January 1944 her husband was executed for dissenting from […]

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Dining with the Lenins

11.09.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

Summer went by so fast that I forgot about time and my blog for a couple of weeks. 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: Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica, her life, friends, favorite recipes and her pass time. Angelica’s life was full with interesting and compelling events. Undoubtedly one of the main events was her dinner with Lenin and his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya. Few people if any have ever dined with the Lenins. In fact Angelica mentioned two such dinners, one of them was described in much detail in her autobiography My Life as a Rebel. The dinner took place in October of 1918, in the suburbs of Moscow, Gorky, where the head of the young Soviet state was recovering after an attempt on his life. Here is what she wrote: “On a little converted balcony,” she described the dinner in her memoirs, “… we ate a bit of bread, a tiny slice of meat, and some cheese – which I had brought from Sweden – and drank a glass of tea with a small piece of sugar.” Pointing at the food, Lenin, as if apologizing in front of Angelica for such abundance, explained that it was sent by the workers from all over Russia who wished him a quick […]

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Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (vareniye)

5.06.2015 Posted in Red Lifestyle, Red Writing No Comments

Those who have been reading 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 mark the book launch I’m starting a new series of articles dedicated to Angelica, her friends, recipes and her pastimes. The aim is to tell you more about my heroine. Drinking tea with jam (vareniye) is a Russian tradition which Angelica followed since her childhood. For her, tea and jam were basic necessities, no matter where she lived, how poor or rich she was. Angelica preferred well-brewed strong black tea. At the time when tea-bags did not exist, she followed a two-step tea-drinking ceremony. First the tea-concentrate was prepared in a small pot, then the desired quantity was poured into a cup and diluted with hot water. As for jams, Angelica had a variety of them. She preferred jam made of fruit and quite thick —like preserves, the way it was made back home in Chernigov. With forests being full of berries, the most reputed jam in Russia was raspberry jam, known for its healing power during flu in winter, the most common – strawberry jam. If she had guests, she served jam in a large bowl along with the pot of tea, explaining to her newcomers that they had to spoon out a little bit of jam for themselves into a smaller glass container. Then simply put a small spoonful of jam in your mouth, […]

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The Forgotten History of Red Rebels – Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni

29.05.2015 Posted in Red History, Red Writing No Comments

I hope you liked my first two articles published within the eries of articles about the Red Rebels – about Louise Berger and Raya Dunaevskaya. Here is a story of another exceptional woman, Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni. As with the two previous heroines, I came across Bianca 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. Angelica must have known Bianca since Bianca’s birth. Angelica was a good friend of Bianca’s father, Valentino Pittoni, a German Socialist Deputy in Trieste who represented Italy. The two women remained good friends until Angelica’s last days. Bianca Tosconi-Pittoni was one of the most beautiful female revolutionaries I have encountered during my research on Angelica Balabanoff. She was stylish, elegant and slender. She was born in 1904 in Trieste. Avant-garde and intelligent, Bianca decided to study medicine, but managed to complete only three years of university. In 1927 upon finishing her 3rd year she was obliged to move to Paris. With Mussolini coming to power, the lives of socialists were put into danger in Italy.In Paris, Bianca wasn’t just a socialist activist. She became the Secretary of Filippo Turati, a leader of the Italian socialists in exile. Bianca was a real Red Rebel. Not only was she beautiful, but she was daring and courageous as well. In 1938 she was one of the few women to join the International Brigade to fight the Spanish Civil war in […]