This is the first installment of Valerie Stivers’s Eat Your Words column.
In St. Petersburg, Russia in the 1830s, peasant style was fashionable, literature was becoming more democratic, and, somewhat weirdly, the poet of human baseness, Nikolai Gogol, was producing some of the best food writing to be found in the Russian canon. His eerie and baroque first collection of short stories, Village Evenings Near Dikanka, is a series of narrations by a beekeeper to the folks gathered in his cottage at night as they’re served snacks: “Delicious beyond description! … Pies you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams: they melt in your mouth! And the butter—it just runs down your lips when you bite into them.” Every time I read Gogol, I want to cook like the Ukrainian housewives in his stories. In this post, I try to re-create a spread from the 1959 edition of Gogol’s collected works. Read More