From Borscht to Firemen to Aphrodite
Saturday News Digest. V1/E 17
It’s Picnic Time!
Table of Contents
Where Did All the Borscht Go?
From the Weekly Fun Fact Dept
Possum Dinner Entry Form
Letter to the Editor
Where Did All the Borscht Go? Because the war ain't over Recipes for borscht flooded the media soon after Russia invaded Ukraine last February. Stuffed cabbage made an appearance and pierogis, too, among many others. These national dishes, so central to the country's culture and identity, were a way to show solidarity. Links provided ways to contribute directly to the Ukrainian cause that made each recipe acts of remembrance and protest. And then the war went on and the recipes grew less and less. It is a bloody and heartbreaking war brought close to us in real time, causing a certain numbness to settle in amidst all the other bad news flashing around us all. We're overwhelmed and tired and at wits' end about everything, and perhaps recipes have come to seem a lame way to show our support and mourn for the Ukrainian people. But, no, they are not. They are, as all recipes are, national treasures, and a way to remember that a historical way of life is being torn apart. And so America Eats! presents one from Lviv, the artistic center of Ukraine, its Old Town with its graceful old buildings designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famed for its coffee and chocolate. If we can ever visit Lviv again, you must sample its renowned syrnyk, a very creamy cheesecake covered in chocolate.
For now, Lviv has been spared the worst of the bombing. Its historic center remains untouched. The residents go about their business pretending to live a more or less normal life. But it has become a city of refugees from other parts of the country who know it's a matter of time before Lviv is struck by Russian bombs. After you bake syrnyk and are sitting around enjoying it, please make a donation that will continue to support the Ukrainian people. An article from CNBC has a solid list of organizations and gives good advice on how to avoid charity scams and there is a lot of hacking going on with URLs that seem to be connected to Ukraine. Just now, for instance, while I was searching for an authentic syrnyk recipe, I came upon a site called Україна Неймовірна - Amazing Ukraine. When I went to copy the site's URL, a sudden orchestra of beeps and blares began to shriek, overlaid by a woman's ominous warning that my computer had been severely hacked. Her direction was to click on a link to a very official looking Microsoft help center. I yelled. My husband came running. He laughed at the crudeness (I mean, seriously, that voice!) while I rebooted my computer. It gave writing this piece a small amount of verisimilitude of the war in Ukraine.
From the Weekly Fun Fact Dept A shocking, only the French!, event.
France consumes about 2.2 pounds of mustard a year per habitant, making it the world's largest consumer.-- Cohen R. (2022, July 15) France Faces a Shortage of Mustard, Its Uniquely Beloved Condiment. The New York Times. p. A1.
Possum Entry Form Fill out and bring to the Polk County Possum Clubhouse
If Tuesday’s story didn’t convince you that a trip to possum-crazy Mena, Arkansas, was worthwhile, consider the fun you’ll have filling out this genuine application, first used in 1939 but reprinted (badly) for the 1997 Polk County Possum Club’s annual dinner!
Further instructions, garbled by the poor printing quality at the bottom, read: Submit to the Mena, Arkansas Possum Clubhouse in the fire station at which time you must take the following pledge of allegiance to All Brother Possums. It absolutely MUST be memorized and kept on the tip of the tongue of all Possum Bidders: I pledge allegiance to Brother Possum, and for the persimmon tree to which he clings; one Eat baked Possum, always dividable, with Possum backbone, Possum rib, Possum ham, Possum shoulder, Possum neck, Possum head, Possum gravy, and Possum tail soup, For all. Firemen Special Engine 235 Summer Crisp Corn Salad
Sometimes it takes Engine 235 in Bedford-Stuyvesant three or four trips to the local supermarket to complete their food shopping. The firehouse is among the busiest in the city, and if a call comes in the firefighters have to abandon their cart and race off. If you ever get the chance to hang out in a firehouse kitchen, you will have to go with the firefighters, as civilians can’t be left alone in the station. You will be left behind in the supermarket if a call comes in. Be prepare to not eat anywhere near a regular meal hour.
All this to introduce one of Engine 235’s best dishes. It quickly comes together and should be refrigerated for at least an hour, but the longer it steeps, the better. It pretty much goes with everything on a summer menu.
Engine 235 Summer Crisp Corn Salad 1 24-ounce can summer crisp corn (See note) 1 medium red onion, sliced thin 1 large tomato, chopped 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar salt and pepper to taste Drain the corn and place in a serving bowl. Add the onion, tomato, garlic, and basil. Stir in the vinegar and salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Take the salad out and taste. You want a robust mingling of all the flavors, especially basil. If it's lacking, give the salad more time in the refrigerator. Note: You can use fresh corn when it comes to market. Just be careful to scrape the kernels off as whole as possible.
Letter to the Editor Re: Cole Porter's "The Tale of the Oyster" Reader: My family enjoyed me singing "The Tale of the Oyster" [see the final entry in last Saturday's Digest], and then my sister sent me this. She says that's me on the half-shell. I thought, even not knowing you, this would apply to you, too. Editor: Hell yeah!