“Female gender mooches around the coloured goods and booths with cookies. Relentless time has left a stamp on these cakes. They are covered with sweet rust and black mold. Buy these cakes, but, please, keep them away from your mouth; if not, you will be in trouble. The same can be said about dried pears and caramel. Pitiful doughnuts are covered with strange matting, there are also ones covered with earth dust. They seem to be dirt cheap for women. The belly is not a mirror.”
The Fair by Anton Chekhov
In other words, one could say that the stomach does not look in the mirror.
Today we rather do not have problems with keeping a good standard of hygiene. We eat food with artificial flavouring, dyes and preservatives. A mirror reflects our face, not belly.
Maybe you could cook your own cakes.
300 g flour200 g butter
100 g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
100 g chocolate
25 g butter
Sift the flour. Add the butter, sugar, salt and yolks. Knead the homogenous dough. Wrap it in the plastic foil and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line the baking sheet with wax paper. Make biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over hot water. Dip biscuits in the chocolate mixture.
(…) <He fills three glasses> Here’s to you all! <He drinks and eats> This herring is the best of all relishes.
No, no, these cucumbers are better; every wise man since the creation of the world has been trying to invent something better than a salted cucumber, and not one has succeeded. Peter, go and fetch some more cucumbers. And Peter, tell the cook to make four little onion pasties, and see that we get them hot.
Caviar is good with vodka, but it must be prepared with skill. Take a quarter of a pound of pressed caviar, two little onions, and a little olive oil; mix them together and put a slice of lemon on top – so! Lord! The very perfume would drive you crazy!
Roast snipe are good too, but they must be cooked right. They should first be cleaned, then sprinkled with bread crumbs, and roasted until they will crackle between the teeth – crunch, crunch!
We had something good at Martha’s yesterday: white mushrooms.
And they were especially well prepared, too, with onions and bay-leaves and spices, you know. When the dish was opened, the odour that floated was simply intoxicating!”
“Ivanov” by Anton Chekhov
In Chekhov’s times only rich people and owners of estates ate tasty food.
Now we live in paradise. Many different foods are available. If we are not sluggards, we can prepare home-made food. The internet inspires our creative cooking. People think: We cannot allow ourselves to buy some ingredients. They are so expensive. Very few are able to basically afford that. I have to admit that it is the cardinal mistake of thinking. We concentrate on the scarcity and at the same time we tread upon sumptuousness of Earth.
What is my delicious food?
When I catch a bird, it is the best for me. My mistress does not accept this. And there is nothing she can do about it.
I must add one grotesque deduction. My mistress does not accept facts that I catch the birds. And she herself is buying poultry and other meat in the market.
Matvey, the character of Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Murder”, “lived in a room next to kitchen, with a big stove, in which, in old days, when this had been a posting inn, bread had been baked every day.”
My mistress and her husband also have the big wood burning stove in the country house. It is not as old as that from Chekhov’s times, but this is old-fashioned stove, from approximately 1960s. My attendants haven’t baked bread in it yet. But I must admit that they made the most of this stove. They pasteurized fruit and vegetables on the plate of the stove and dried others inside of the stove. In September the cellar was full of preserves.
tomatoes in tomato pure
apple, pears and quince jam
dried apples and pears
dried chilli without seeds
dried apple peels for the flavouring of tea
Mushrooms were found in the forest, and fruit and vegetables were growing in my mistress’s garden.