As an introduction to the Russian style of cooking – and cooking and food and culture generally – I would recommend William Pokhlebkin’s Secrets of Good Cooking if it only was available in English. The closest I was able to locate is An Introduction to William Pokhlebkin and his Contributions to Russian Culture by Ronald F. Feldstein of Indiana University but “Secrets” themselves evade me. The only book translated into English and a bunch of other languages is his History of Vodka, written on “party order” to prove that distillation is a Russian invention. As nearly all products of forced labour it is cumbersome and full of stretched arguments. Secrets, his masterpiece, remains rare in Russia and inaccessible to the international audience.
Somebody please help me locate “Secrets of Good Cooking” in English translation!
There also are “Russian cuisine” classes run in Moscow and praised highly by travellers and in the expat community. I, being a snob, was put off by the very expression “Russian cuisine” and declined an invitation to join their ranks. The the core and foundation of the Russian style of cooking is simplicity and economy of fuel. materials, and labour. “Cuisine” is the opposite. It is an art, practiced by dedicated experts who strive for perfection, and consumed by connoisseurs. Russian food is the opposite. It is simple and accessible to anyone. It is cooked, not created, and eaten, not celebrated. No deep processing is usually involved, and low heat and time do most of the work. So, please, don’t apply “cuisine” to Russian cooking, or you miss the whole point, and turn a powerful way of cooking into a very mediocre art. Anyway, this Taste of Russia establishment does position itself and is seen by many as a gateway to Russian food so I am adding it to this guide under Info/background > Food.