11.11.2009

Olivie Salad (салат оливье)

Many family feuds began over a mixing bowl similar to this one. It's not the bowl, nor the spoon, but rather what's in it that keeps this, one of the most bipolar recipes in Russian cuisine. What's even more interesting is that it originated with a Frenchman, Lucien Olivier. It was invented and served by him, according to some sources, in the mid 19th century in a luxe hotel-restaurant in Moscow. It makes me feel good to say those that argue the content of their version is right are generally so far from the original it's entertaining. The first recipe contained "grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, gherkins, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and soy beans" (wikipedia:Russian salad).

The generalized common version made in most Russian households retains only two of the original ingredients, hard-boiled eggs and gherkins. Generally there is a pretty consistent agreement that potatoes and mayonnaise (for dressing) are included, beyond that different schools of thought exist.
Pea and boiled carrot people.
Fresh cucumber users.
Beet-niks.
Apple eaters.
Onion persons?!
I am sure I missed a few... luckily, in the former 15 Republics, the schools of thought enjoyed the separation by geography. They still live in peace and harmony never arguing over the dinner table. Never in fear of designating this half-salad, half-entree as a potluck item to someone. They are unafraid of someone marring into the family and producing a foreign version, because they know there is power in numbers. When reaching for a spoonful, they know that the mayo-veiled components will not surprise them, but delight with comfort of old expectations.

Here, in the melting pot of refuges and immigrants, salad battles rage regularly. It's tough, but occasionally one makes a salad to enjoy behind closed doors, and it feels just like home.

4 potatoes, boiled skins on
2 kosher dill pickles
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 chicken breast fillets, steamed and cubed
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled
2 tbsp mayo
salt
pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Before you start working make sure the ingredients are at room temperature. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Toss the cubed potatoes in a large mixing bowl with a little salt, pepper and olive oil. Do so carefully to keep them intact. Add the other ingredients chopped (this is a small cubed dice, consistent for all ingredients, except potato which is slightly larger). Add mayo and mix carefully until fully incorporated. Taste and add mayo and/or salt to taste. This salad is great fresh, wonderful as leftovers and will generally keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

- signed "apple eater"
Source: bowl photo apartmenttherapy.com

4 comments:

Maya said...

no way!

Ira said...

i am with maya.. plus.. seriously. peas and carrots are a must!!!

Evelina said...

I love peas! and i am not sarcastic

Lenka said...

Came across this article today :)

http://spoon.com.ua/2010/12/russkij-salat-istoriya-olive/