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NewlyNested: Love and Marriage (and Russian Food)


a blogumn by Debra Goykhman

This weekend an old friend of mine from college came to visit.  She was a Russian major and spent a year over in Russia.  After her time spent in Eastern Europe, I have only seen her get excited about food from the other side of the world.  Since I married someone of Ukrainian descent I decided to take this opportunity to embrace my husband’s culture and make a real Ruski dinner.

Cooking my husband’s favorite food has been something that has been requested of me since we first met a few years ago.  The first dish he wanted was chicken kotlety, a freshly ground chicken patty, much like an American meatloaf rolled in bread crumbs and fried.  When I found out the first step of cooking the dish was grinding chicken breasts myself, I instantly told my husband, “I’m never doing that, you’ll have to visit your mom for that meal.”  A year later I bought a meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid, and a year after that I did make the kotlety. It was easy and I am told it was delicious.

My embrace of a Russian dinner party led to one of my favorite cooking discoveries, curring my own salmon.  I have tried that one before this meal, but didn’t think the taste was nearly as good as the Costco lox.  Before I curried wild sockeye salmon with just salt and sugar, but this time I added lemon zest, dill and parsley.  I have never had better lox in my life.

Of course there was a lot more to the meal—borscht, salad course, caviar, Russian bread, and a little American red velvet cake to represent me.    The night was a pleasure with plenty of courses and lots of wine and vodka to go around, but my friend also introduced me to some lovely culture.  She explained to me how hospitable she’d found the people that she stayed with in Eastern Europe to be.  She felt they gave their all to their guests even when they couldn’t afford it.  She also shared that it was customary to toast the host and so all night long I was very humbled by all the wonderful things my friends said about me with raised glasses.

I never thought much about the days of when I would be married.  I just always knew that one day I would be married.  One thing I didn’t think about was marrying into a culture that is not my own.  This last week I had fun dipping into a world that I am still learning a great deal about.  Next on my list is to start Russian lessons through Rosetta Stone.  What kind of culture are you learning through your marriage?  Or through your relationship with someone important in your life?