In their introduction to Seasoned Socialism: Gender & Food in Late Soviet Everyday Life
(Indiana University Press, 2019), Anastasia Lakhtikova
, Angela Brintlinger
, and Irina Glushchenko
invite the reader to “imagine a society where food is managed by officialdom like a controlled substance and everyone is addicted to it.”
Food plays a pivotal role throughout Russian history, but perhaps no more so than during the Soviet era, when the perennial Russian cycle of feast and famine took on a highly political aspect. Access to food was a powerful tool wielded by the State, from the Kholodomor to the ration cards of the eighties, Soviet citizens were forced to make daily choices about food, which often brought with them unwelcome moral dilemmas.
For a topic that is such a fulcrum of political, economic, sociological, and historical, studies, far too little scholarship on the topic has been produced either in Russia or the West. We can posit the reasons why: probably too feminine a topic, definitely too domestic, not serious, too private, but the fact is indisputable and the lack of relevant scholarship of Russian culinary studies makes Seasoned Socialism
all the more timely and welcome.
This collection of essays by noted scholars from a range of fields, including literary studies, film studies, food studies, history, and sociology examines the intersection of gender, food, and culture in the post-1960s era. In them, we discover oral history, personal cookbooks, memorable scenes from the Golden Age of Soviet Cinema, poetry, and even stories of survival in the Gulags. We are transported inside steamy communal apartment kitchens and out to the welcome fresh air of a dacha. We discover the lore of the cabbage and the magic of tea, and we come to know the people whose lives revolved around sourcing, preparing, and enjoying food in the late Soviet Era.
Seasoned Socialism: Gender & Food in Late Soviet Everyday Life
joins the canon of “must-reads” for serious students of Russian and Soviet history, culture, and, of course, cuisine.
Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who divides her time between Riga, Latvia, and New England. Jennifer writes about travel, food, lifestyle, and Russian history and culture with bylines in Reuters, Fodor’s, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. She is the in-house travel blogger for Alexander & Roberts, and the award-winning author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow
. Follow Jennifer on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook or visit jennifereremeeva.com for more information.