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An Undeserved Reputation

It must be because some prominent Soviet politicians appeared inebriated in public view, but the popular notion of Russians being addicted to their vodka is exaggerated, if deserved at all! Yes, a spot to warm the cockles of the heart is almost inevitable in the bone-chilling ambience of any harsh winter, but Russians are not just great at food processing, but incredibly endowed in terms of a vibrant and diverse food culture as well.

I am less in to cooking than eating, so forgive me if I dwell more on the joys of pelmeni, rather than on the laborious ways of making these delectable dumplings by hand. No, do not click away because you saw the word 'dumplings', because I assure you that the pelemen (as the singular goes) is intriguingly different from its cousins of other latitudes. I am told that this is due to the painstaking way by which the dough is mixed, but the taste is so absorbing that I have never been able to concentrate on what a chef says!

Pelmeni will add to your stature as a gracious host, because they are as healthy, and full of variety, as tasty, filling, and easy to hold, chew, and swallow while nursing a beverage, and socializing, all at the same time! The dough does require eggs for the distinctive texture and feel, but the fillings can suit every palate from the world of cholesterol lovers, to those of vegetarians. Do be prepared for a bit of a stampede though, should you venture to serve these pastel balls of heaven, for your guests will attack every pile and station where they are displayed and made, with unbecoming zest! Conversation is said to flag as everyone is distracted by never-ending discoveries of all manners of fillings!

There is more to Russian cuisine than just the pelemen, but no other culinary preparation has such broad-based appeal, with a distinct touch of ethnicity at the same time. Pelmeni reflect the quintessential gregariousness of the Russian psyche, with entire families involved in their preparation and devouring on social occasions, with powerful spirits flowing like the deep waters of the Volga!


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