Posted by: Hourglass PJ30 MAR 2011
On a recent visit to Russia, I was aware of a strong nostalgia for the Soviet past, with food playing a strong part in this. One example of Russian food nostalgia is the museum of public catering in Moscow, which is devoted solely to preserving the culinary heritage of the Soviet Union and is well worth a visit.
Part of the museum exhibits individual dishes and ingredients representing cuisines found across the Soviet Union but many displays feature the role of food in national politics. The tour guides are retired chefs and restaurant managers.
They walk solemnly through exhibits packed with cooking appliances and implements, menus and cookbooks both from famous Soviet era restaurants and from modest public eating places, before stopping in front of portraits of individuals who have been recognised as “hero chefs” for their exemplary service to the Soviet Union, particularly during the 1939–45 war.
These “hero chefs” are further acknowledged with exhibits devoted to menus, place cards and other souvenirs from the restaurants where they worked, as well as artwork, postcards and other personal effects of these individuals. Their portraits hang in the special “hall of honour” and special recognition is given to members of the food services profession who died in combat.
The veneration paid to these members of the food services profession clearly underscores the importance of these individuals to the project of building the socialist state.