March 01, 2015

Recipe for Austerity

Recipe for Austerity
Jennifer Eremeeva

Students of Russian will readily recognize the phrase Shchi da kasha, pisha nasha (cabbage soup and buckwheat porridge are our food). This truthful tongue-twister is introduced early on in the classroom in an effort to tackle the Slavic sibilants, but since July 2014, when the Kremlin imposed retaliatory sanctions against food imports from the US, EU, Canada, Norway, and Japan, the phrase has a new connotation: Russia’s culinary options may soon dwindle to these two domestic staples.

These days in Russia, it’s chic to be patriotic, and one is tempted to egg on those who still celebrate the annexation of Crimea, until they claim that this monotonous diet is a small price to pay for the nation’s glory.

Many of the newly patriotic also seem to be newly devout Orthodox Christians, adhering assiduously (if slightly unsure of, or indifferent to the doctrinal reasons why) to the rigorous liturgical calendar of religious obligations. And this is the season of the most demanding obligation of them all: Great Lent.

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