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The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

Exploring Heritage and Culture through Food

A bowl of Borscht
Credit: Tatyanas Everyday Food
A bowl of Borscht Credit: Tatyana’s Everyday Food

As a son of immigrant Russian parents, I have been surrounded by Russian cuisine my entire life. While at times it does get repetitive to eat the same food (especially since my immigrant parents don’t understand the concept of seasoning), I still definitely have some picks for my favorite foods to eat. 

A bowl of Plov.
Credit: Olga’s Flavor Factory

While basic, one of my favorite foods to eat is called plov; a simple dish made with chicken or lamb; rice, and carrots. On the surface, this meal seems pretty simple — and it is, usually being put on the table as more of an appetizer. It is still a good meal that I regularly take to school as lunch. I also tend to pour a healthy serving of hot sauce onto it, making the flavor profiles more diverse and interesting. 

This meal brings me back to my childhood, where I remember days of coming home to the warm smell of fresh plov, and devouring numerous plates of it for both dinner and lunch. 

Another meal that’s great for either dinner or lunch is borscht, a beet-based soup usually eaten with sour cream. It’s surprisingly dense and flavor-rich with its beef chunks, potatoes, carrots, and onions. My favorite time to eat it is on a rainy day, as it not only warms you, but also keeps you full for the following few hours.

This meal reminds me of my late grandfather. Being one of his favorite meals, I remember how we would spend multiple hours cooking the soup. After we finished, I vividly remember our conversations as we talked for hours with our freshly cooked soup. 

For more special occasions, specifically for our New Year’s Celebration, we have olivier salad. While I only eat this dish once a year, it gives me something to look forward to when ringing in the New Year. While mostly just a simple potato salad with chicken, assorted vegetables, and mayonnaise, it reminds me of all the crazy memories that I have from the various New Year’s parties I have attended.

Kholodets
Credit: Natasha’s Kitchen

Another New Year’s special is kholodets. While it is likely one of the wildest dishes eaten by us Russians, its surprising taste profile makes for an interesting dish. While the thought of beef and vegetables suspended in gelatin doesn’t seem too appealing, when topped with horseradish, it makes for an enjoyable meal to celebrate the new year. 

These New Year’s meals are a great way not only to get together with friends and family for a special holiday, they also get you fully immersed in the traditional Slavic New Years celebration. These foods help me align with my culture and people, allowing me to enjoy myself through our unique traditions.

Blini
Credit: Tatyana’s Everyday Food

The last dish I wanted to highlight is blini. These super thin crepes are great to enjoy when filled with either sweet things like condensed milk, jam, or Nutella; or with savory things such as beef, chicken, or cabbage. My favorite thing to do with these is to put them in a pan and fry them, making the crepe itself extra crispy!

While I do sometimes feel a bit tired from eating some of these dishes over and over and I love to complain to my parents about the general lack of flavor and seasoning, I simply can’t deny the impact these foods have on my identity. Russian food and culture are a big part of me and I hope to share it with as many people as I can. 

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About the Contributor
Hi! I'm a senior at NHHS in the HGM program. I love discovering the world of STEM through my classes and my extracurriculars. In my free time, I enjoy listening to rap music, running my side hustle, and getting Chipotle with my friends.
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