Until you read about his death, did you know that Aleksandr Soltzhenitsyn was alive for the better part of 2008? Yeah, neither did we. We read A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich in 9th grade English, and don’t remember much about it except for general bleakness.
Oh, and of course, the food. Since the book was a description of one single day, it really got down into minutiae, and this involved lengthy descriptions of food and its importance. See, not only were the political prisoners starving, food also had an awesome power as currency. If a prisoner had the will to conserve their rations, they could use the food they had squirreled away to get what they wanted out of fellow prisoners.
Anyway, although Soltzhenitsyn used many words to describe it, gulag grub was actually nothing to write home about. From what we remember, it consisted of watery soups, stale bread, cabbage, and gristly, bony fish heads. Hardly the stuff of (food) dreams! Still, in memorial: some thoughts on where to get Russian food. (We are cheating and going to places that are palatable. Don’t be mad.)
• Restaurant X.O serves big Russian, banquet-style meals. Feel part of an extended Russian family as you takes bites from assorted flavorful smoked meat and fish platters.
• A giant spread of Russian food is also possible at Golden Gate, although you will have to BYOV (bring your own vodka). Feast on blintzes and pierogies, all while thanking your lucky stars that you’ve been spared oily fish head soup.
Go, eat, drink, be contemplative! If not for yourself, then for Ivan Denisovich.