Vareniky, Batvinia (1828)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Nov 25 02:51:32 UTC 2002

   "Vareniki" (or "vareniky") the Ukrainian dumplings, is not in OED.
   The following is from the American Periodical Series online.  It's taken in turn from the LONDON LITERARY GAZETTE, September 6 (1828).  The book cited in the article is ST. PETERSBURGH: A JOURNAL OF TRAVELS TO AND FROM THAT CAPITAL, THROUGH FLANDERS, THE RHENISH PROVINCES, PRUSSIA, RUSSIA, POLAND, SIBERIA, SAXONY, THE CONFEDERATED STATES OF GERMANY AND FRANCE, by A. B. Granville.  The article begins "As these volumes are not yet in circulation...."
   For some reason, I didn't go through this book.  Maybe it wasn't on the shelf?  The 1828 edition that's supposed to be on the shelf here at Columbia University isn't here.
   From CASKET, February 1829, pg. 9:

   The first commends to your attention a little _vareniky_; the second, finding that you have already before you a dish of _stchy_, brings round the _rastingay_, or oblong pastry to eat with it. (...)
   But apropos of _vareniky_!  It is a dish of which many are very fond, made of a thin paste of buck-wheat flour, not baked, having fresh cream-cheese inside, melted butter thrown over it, and eaten with sour cream.  Yet this heterogeneous kind of fare is nothing compared to another called _batvinia_, which is, indeed, the king of the ollas, as may be judged from the emuneration of its ingredients, which are as follows: kvass, (the vehicle,) kislistchi, salt-fish, craw-fish, spinage, salt-cucumbers, and onions.  These form a mixture (a mixture with a vengeance!) which is used and served up with a piece of ice in the middle.  When the late Emperor ALexander, who is said to have been very fond of this national dish, was at the congress of Vienna, he ordered it to be presented ata dinner at which the corps diplomatique had been invited; and turning to a noble and military lord, more remarkable for blunt straight forwardness than Machiavelian diplomacy, asked him how he found the _batvinia_.  "Je le trouve detestable!  Sire," was the answer.--But the fish!  Oh, thefish is delectable at St. Petersburgh!  They have no cod and no turbot, but commend me to the _sterlet_, the soveriegn fish for the table, and to the _soudak_, and to the _sieg_, and to the _yersche_, and the _kilky_, and so on to the end of a long list; but of these more anon, when I shall introduce to the notice of my readers the fish-markets of St. Petersburgh.
   This proved a complete lesson to me on Russian cookery.  By way of gaining personal experience I tasted of every thing, and took down the name of all that I tasted; the result of which was, that I got a list of dishes, and an indigestion from eating them.  Figure to yourself, gentle reader, the state in which Dr. Paris's cauldron must have been with _stchy_ and _borsch_ soups, the one with cabbage, the other with fermented beet root; rastingai and crouglo pirrog (a patty with fowl, and eggs;) stewed sterlet; quails slowly roasted in a stew-pan, and covered with thick sour cream, stewed pork with mushrooms and truffles; _jelinottes_ and white asparagus; kascha and kascha pudding; _fromage_, _caviar_, _compotes_, sweet wines, and draughts of _kwass_, or _kislistchi_, the former being a species of brewed fermented liquor, prepared from rye-flour and barley malt, of which the latter is a strong effervescent variety; fancy, I say, all this safely lodged within the parites of a single stomach, and think, oh think, of the night that must have followed!

(I'm thinking that someone should invent Pepto Bismol--ed.)

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