Syrian dish Hummus cooked by Alla Sarymova
The Community of Russian diplomats’ wives and the Association of Diplomats of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have announced the launch of a large-scale project which has become known as Cookery Book. The printed version of the book will feature recipes from all corners of the globe which Community representatives collected in the course of their husbands’ business trips. International Affairs editor Anna Yershova met with Community manager Anastasia Lyogkaya to find out more about the gastronomical project.
– Nice to meet you, Anastasia. Could you tell us more about the book, how you came to the idea of creating it.
– The idea of publishing a recipe book was sort of “floating in the air”. Culinary art is popular among representatives of the Community of Diplomats’ Wives. We often exchange recipes and recommendations on how to prepare this or that dish, so I heard proposals to compile a cookery book from a fairly large number of Community members.
One day, while I was tasting a dish I had prepared on the basis of a recipe provided by a Community member, my husband said: «You must publish a book of recipes». These words gave me no peace, followed me everywhere. As a result, I ventured to launch the project. The participants in our Community supported the idea, and immediately there appeared a focus group of likeminded women who were ready for such an unconventional culinary challenge.
– At present, there exists a large number of books in different languages which present recipes from all corners of the globe. What do you think makes the Cookery Book by Russian diplomats’ wives unique?
– You are right, recipe books are in abundance. But if you browse through the culinary section of any bookstore, you will mostly come across works by professional chefs, though you sometimes see books titled “cookery for beginners” and even fundamental treaties on the “history of culinary art” by William Pokhlyobkin.
Our book comes from amateurs and for amateurs. We are fond of cooking, but we are far from professionals and we spend time in the kitchen for pleasure. For this reason, we hope that a wide range of readers will be able to easily cook dishes on our recipes thereby introducing a variety into their domestic menu. In addition, a culinary book from the wives of Russian diplomats bears part of the history of our foreign trips which we want to share with the reader.
Dish Arena from Venezuela. Prepared by Natalya Vinokurova
– How many members have announced readiness to take part in the project, what countries are they from?
– At present, more than 40 women are on the project, and the number of countries presented in the book may still be larger, as many representatives of the Community have been to more than one foreign trips. If we are to list the regions our recipes come from, they come from countries of nearly all corners of the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America.
– What are the criteria for selecting recipes, and are you planning to streamline the dishes depending on the region of their origin?
– Our book focuses on the practicability of a recipe, rather than on its origin. The main criterion is that the recipe must be brought from a foreign trip and be part of the local cuisine. Besides, the dish must be cooked by the participant on the project herself.
Tom Yum from Thailand. By Gulnara Pronina
– Will a member of the project from France be able to cook a dish from Namibia or Chile?
– In the globalized world of today we can buy practically any ingredients or their analogues nearly everywhere. Nevertheless, in the book we are oriented at products which are available everywhere. Also, in their commentaries to the recipes the participants in the project share their secrets of how to find the ingredients for and cook the dishes, so the reader will have no difficulty copying the dish.
– What have you prepared for the book?
– My husband and I are currently in a remote Latin American country – Chile. Chilean cuisine includes fairly plain dishes and a number of nearly forgotten, but very curious “babushka recipes”. For the book I picked one of the forgotten dishes – the dessert Leche Nevada, which is so welcome on special occasions in Chilean families.
Chilean dessert Leche Nevada by Anastasia Lyogkaya
– When will the book come out?
– We would like to finish the book at the end of 2020 – early 2021, we cannot say for sure, considering the current situation. The first batch will be presented to the participants in the project, some copies will go to the Russian Foreign Ministry and Community partners. One copy will be saved for the journal International Affairs.
– Anastasia, thank you for an interesting talk!