Originally Posted by CharlieD
Totally off topic. My best memory of Krasnodar is bread. Albeit I was there 10 years before you did. But it was amazing. A huge round loaf, like nothing I have seen before. Enough to feed 2-3 hungry families. Snow white and soft as a down pillow. Amazing smell and taste, I will never forget.
We got met at the train station in Krasnodar with bread and salt, and also, the city sent a contingent of three to meet us at the airport, which they sent at great expense and inconvenience to make sure we got good Kubanski Krai bread on setting foot in Russia. Great bread there, I have tried to emulate it in my own bread making, and I still have friends there I correspond with.
1991 was a weird time to be in Russia. You are from the Ukraine? We were originally supposed to be in Kiev, it was decided by the government to move our exchange to Krasnodar because of the volatility in the Ukraine at the time. As I'm sure you know there are many in Krasnodar who know and have ties in the Ukraine. We watched the news very closely.
I regret to say that on my educational exchange in Russia, my group (from a prestigious prep school in the NE), kind of acted like jerks. It was only half of us, three in a group of six, but they behaved like really insensitive Americans, ended up offending our hosts often, and basically behaving like entitled children because 1991 Russia wasn't like 1991 New Hampshire. Half of us came to experience the country, people, and culture, and were often horrified at some of the things our fellows did. Particularly egregious as things weren't great in Krasnodar in 1991, and we were being treated to the best.
We ended up in a kind of open rebellion within our exchange group, with half keeping to themselves and people disliking them, and half of us making the most of the experience.
We went, for instance, to a collective farm for a weekend. I found some of the tasks kind of fun, and in the evening we retired to the hayloft, where they brought out balalikas, and a bit of vodka and farm made wine. I had brought several harmonicas in different keys, so we jammed a bit.
The sour-apple group kept to themselves. Wouldn't work, made friends with nobody, and consistently complained about the food, because it wasn't what they were used to. Honestly, some of the Cossaks there asked if they couldn't just dump them in the river?
Anyway, I think my Russian was the absolute worst of the group, I am somewhat dyslexic, and have a devil of the time with Cyrillic. Somehow, though, most of the 'grandmothers' seemed to always understand what I was saying in my tortured Russian, but never really got what the sour-apple group was intending, they'd ask for beef and get fish in gellitan, etc...
I was proud to visit the Soviet Union when it started to be Russia again. I feel very sad for my friends in the Ukraine and Russia for the problems between the two countries. Ferreting a recipe out of a Russian 'grandmother' is very difficult, first as they like my grandmother's generation don't use specific quantities, and second, at least in Krasnodar, really believe that a high school aged male is interested in cooking. "Lets write it down, grandmother, for my mother to cook for me, so I can remember my good Russian friends when I get back home. I want to remember this city and the country, and I have enjoyed your fine cooking."
My experience on an educational exchange was interesting, as half the people I went with had a completely opposite experience from the other half. Three people had the worst experience of their lives (or so they constantly said), and three of us enjoyed it very much, and have friends in Russia we still speak with, write to, and communicate with often.
My notebook, with my Krasnodar recipes, is in a storage box in limbo between moves. I keep a journal, and wrote most recipes in my journal at the time. We are about to move, and I'll track it down and post some.
Oh and I know things are tense between the Ukraine and Russia. I support my friends in Krasnodar, who on the whole have no truck with Putin's expansionist policies, neither now, nor similar polices in 1991 when I was there. I do imagine 1981 was very different in Krasnodar, love to hear your views. I do like the city a lot, both from my own time there, and from good friends who call it home. I was a bit sad that Krasnodar got tarred by some of the criticisms of Sochi during the winter olympics. It is a grand old town.
All right, we were talking perogies right? Sorry to hijack things.