The smell of food from Odessa windows is what inspires me to write, and is one more reason why I eat when I have to sleep! Love, sea salt, fragrant sunflower oil from Privoz, vegetables that absorbed the Odessa sun and the steppe breath, fragrant greens from someone’s country house, a bit of post-beach laziness to cook something more difficult than a salad, a pinch of freshly ground pepper, slightly roasted in a pan, like seeds – and here it is, the best dinner in the world! And almost dietary)))
But the real famous Odessa food is exotic. Its manufacture requires the hands that are “completely feminine.” Experience, patience, accuracy and time sacrifice, which is difficult to think of in other cities or countries. When you see these miniature sprat rissoles, pancakes with cottage cheese and little galumpkis, stuffed fish and chicken necks, all these puff pastry pies and napoleon cakes, you immediately realize the complexity of cooking them. They embody the painstaking work of Odessa mothers and grandmothers and the immutable value of the taste and beauty of food for everyone who was born and raised here.
Everything that this city consists of: its speech, its humour, its sea, its people and of course its food – builds up both mood and appetite. In Odessa, you can hear about the local cookbook: “I’m getting fatter just because I’m flipping through it.” In Odessa they say “get better” instead of “heal up,” in Odessa, customers are divided into “ordinary” and “forshmaked” from the word forshmak. In Odessa, grandmothers believe: “to clean the sprats that’s like to knit for others – it calms the nerves.”
You don’t have to understand Odessa food. Just dare to name, for example, our little sprats an ordinary bony small fish! This is our “seasonal national fish-religious obscurantism.” We write about it “tasty” humoresques. We give food diminutive names! We fry, boil, stew and salt it. We salt even if much salt harms our healthy Odessa humour 🙂
If ask me during the grey winter: “What do you want most, Masha?” I would say: “I want to go to Odessa, sometime in June, and to the market so that I can buy everything right away!” Arrive, drop my bags and run off early in the morning. Baked cottage cheese, new potatoes, peeled; a bunch of greens for a salad and strawberry. Without haste, with the Odessa jeweller accuracy choose each berry so that the jam also looks good, not only tastes!
Well, it’s important for us that food is both delicious and good-looking. In Odessa, they have lived like this and will always live like this. It is inherited, this blood running through our veins, having same colour as Mikado tomato juice.