The Crazy Things We Do...for Life

in #community3 years ago (edited)

Chapter Five: The mystery of the Russian Salad that was French

Давним давном в Русском царстве, в Русском государстве жил да был царь, у него были замечательний ресторан в французском стиле по имени Эрмитаж и его шеф-повар Lucien Olivier...

This story starts in the Russian Empire and is ice skating complicate and picturesque pirouettes all the way from Moscow, across Bulgaria, France and Spain through Belgium to make a final double axel in Alaska, USA. Today I am taking you back in 1864 to reveal the master skills of a French chef, Monsieur Olivier, who worked for the Russian Emperor Aleksandr II Nikolayevich. The time was of turbulent changes and demanded a ruler of strong character and diplomatic skills. It was back in those days, the Russian Tsar had taken the quest to significant reform as Emperor and was later called Alexander the Liberator for conducting the emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861. He was also known for his reforms in reorganising the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, and promoting university education…and for his gourmet taste. In addition, Alexander II was the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland and the one who sold Alaska to the United States in 1867.

Liberation of Bulgaria. In April 1876 the Bulgarian population on the Balkans rebelled against Ottoman rule. The April Uprising was suppressed, causing a general outcry throughout Europe. Some of the most prominent intellectuals and politicians on the Continent, most notably Victor Hugo and William Gladstone, sought to raise awareness about the atrocities that the Turks imposed on the Bulgarian population. To solve this new crisis in the "Eastern question" a special conference was convened in Constantinople at the end of the year. The participants in the Conference failed to reach a final agreement. After the failure of the Constantinople Conference, at the beginning of 1877 Emperor Alexander II started diplomatic preparations with the other Great Powers to secure their neutrality in case there was a war between Russia and the Ottomans. The Russo-Turkish war, declared on 17 April 1877 (Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878) ended with the signing of the preliminary peace Treaty of San Stefano on 19 February (3 March N.S.) 1878. For his social reforms in Russia and his role in the liberation of Bulgaria, Alexander II became known in Bulgaria as the "Tsar-Liberator of Russians and Bulgarians". A monument to Alexander II was erected in 1907 in Sofia in the "National Assembly" square, opposite to the Parliament building.

Alexander II of Russia

The personality of the Russian Tsar is deeply respected in Bulgarian history. Despite his otherwise pacifist foreign policy and his diplomatic contribution to the that stabilized European political situation, Alexander fought a brief war with the Ottoman Empire in 1877–78, pursued further expansion into Siberia and the Caucasus. In more peaceful and leisure days he enjoyed the delights Monsieur Olivier created at the Hermitage. On every New Year’s Eve and other major holidays, half of the world’s population is almost collapsing out of the dense pleasures of the tongue provided by Lucien Olivier’s most famous creation – The Imperial Olivier Salad.

In those days, many Russian aristos visited Paris, and would order dishes from their homeland, including the salade Olivier or Imperiale. Thus this hors d’ouvre became all the rage in the Paris of La Belle Époque, and thence it arrived in Spain, England and Italy. The common Spanish recipe has none of the aristocratic delights but it keeps the vegetables and tuna, all dressed in mayonnaise. The most curious thing is that in Russia there is a version of the Salade Olivier that is actually more popular...but that’s called American salad!

Cafe Babel

Monsieur Olivier’s salad that became the signature dish of the of the famous French-style Hermitage Restaurant in Moscow had its 155th anniversary in 2018. Invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier (1838-1883), a Moscow restaurateur and the very same owner of the restaurant in Trubnaya Square, initially, the salad was, but a dish called "Mayonnaise from Poultry". Olivier’s gourmet recipe consists of boiled, cut and laid on a plate fillets of grouse and partridges and alternately arranged with jelly cubes of poultry broth. Boiled crayfish tails and veal tongue slices were placed next to these and flavoured with Provencal sauce. The center of the plate was decorated with cooked potatoes and marinated cornichons, decorated with slices of hard-boiled eggs. According to the chef, the central "hill" was suiting purely aesthetic purposes.

The Crazy thing done…for Life

To Lucien Olivier’s not very pleasant surprise, he saw that his intricately decorated dainty of "Mayonnaisefrom Poultry" was immediately mixed with a spoon by lots of Russian ignoramuses who enjoyed eating this mixture. Naturally, that horrified the chef and it’s a mystery under what circumstances he had made the decision to stir all the ingredients together and abundantly flavor them with mayonnaise. A chef’s horror taking the shape of a massive success!

Russian Salad

A salad so good that every nation claims a name and a version on it

During Franco’s dictatorship in Spain (1936-1976), Monsieur Olivier’s salad was very popular under the name Russian Salad, but the fascists could not tolerate its name as they deemed such a name is a “devil incarnate on a plate” and very quickly it was renamed for a second time a National Salad. Quite understandably, some ingredients were swapped for others still renowned cook researches insist that the original would be close to a mound of potatoes mixed with gherkins placed in the centre of a platter, covered with hard-boiled egg slices for decoration. Around this mound, the chef arranged slices of simmered grouse and partridge breast, small aspics moulded into bird shapes, simmered crayfish tails, and slices of tongue, all of which was drizzled with a mayonnaise sauce. No one really knows the complete recipe Lucien Olivier has created, as the chef hadn’t allowed anyone watch him making it. Nevertheless, most food historians seem to agree that Olivier’s mayonnaise sauce for it really was the key that no one seemed able to reproduce.

The salad to which Olivier gave his name involves cold game (or salmon in Lent) and has a more sophisticated dressing.
Davidson, Alan. The Penguin Companion to Food. London: The Penguin Group, 2002. Page 810.

The post Russian Revolution story of the Russian Salad introduces less gourmet compared to the political regime changes that have gone beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. Nowadays, the updated and even more popular version could be tried even in Goa, India where Chowder Singh is giving us a hint how do they serve it there.

Potato and Peas replaced the fancy ingredients along with some veggies and fresh meat by sausage/boiled meat. It was all mixed up in mayonnaise to a more accessible recipe and spread to many parts of the world to be the new Soviet version of the dish.
Goa, India


The salad that became so famous, was tried by Tsar Alexander II of Russia himself at His Majesty's visits at the Hermitage, Monsieur Olivier’s restaurant. Lucien Olivier died in 1883 and took the secret of his dish to his grave, as he never wrote the recipe, and none of his assistants saw how he prepared it. His restaurant, The Hermitage, finally closed in 1905.

… После того тут льди устроили пир на весь мир и жили долго и счастливо.


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I've actually never heard of this type of salad!

Cafe Babel notes down that it resembles the American salad that won popularity lately in Russia (whatever they meant under American salad). Personally I adore the Waldorf salad.

Love the history behind this salad! Thank you so much for all the info, very interesting :-)

Great post! I found you because @dipoabasch featured you in the Pay it Forward Curation contest. Feel free to join us every week with an entry of your own!

I am also going to submit this to c squared, hopefully they stopped by to show their appreciation as well:)

Very kind and generous of yours, @lynncoyle1! Thank you for the time and your high appreciation of that post. I took real pleasure in making it.

have you ever tried making this kind of salad @ravijojla? how does it taste? many countries have their own salad and this one really has a great history behind it.. thanks for sharing..

Oh, I am making it mainly on the New Year's Eve. It's a completely winter salad balancing very well fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Despite it is dense, the taste is very smooth and light. Recipes of the nowadays version are available under #russiansalad tag all over web and the prep time is not more than 15 minutes. As it is very fulfilling, I prefer it as a single meal for lunch.

if you have a chance to make it by yourself next time, will you post it on Steemit? I can read anywhere.. but it will always nice to read it from you, I know you could show us the process and provide very good pictures too

I'd be glad to :-)
No need to wait for me to prepare it. Here is my recipe:


1 kg potatoes - boiled
2-3 pickled carrots 
5-6 pickled cucumbers
500 g peas 
4 hard boiled eggs
300 g ham (could be substituted with poultry)
400 g mayonnaise  
1/2 Tea cup (my granny's favourite measure!) of cut walnuts 


Cut all ingredients into small cubes, cover with the mayonnaise and stir well. Leave in the fridge for 20 min before serving.

Bon apetit!

Thanks for the post idea, @cicisaja :-) In the meantime, try it your way and enjoy the taste of the continent.

thank you so much @ravijojla.. I'll make a post if I succeed on making this recipe, LOL.. I never eaten the salad and I don;t know how its taste.. but worth to try.

hello there @ravijojla, this is an interesting story about a food, couldn't believe that the changed the name because of politics too. I know you have known about Pay It Forward Contest right? I fetaured you this week.. hehehe, here is the link entry pifc week 40

Hi, @dipoabasch :-)

I know of it, I just saw you have included a link to this post in yours and I am excited to have your recognition. I'll see to make an entry too. Great initiative! Thanks for making me a part of it ;-)

we'd be happy to see you posting an entry too @ravijojla,I'm glad that i found your post because I'm stalking to @cicisaja.. LOL, she's my wife and I've seen her made a comment. if it's not me.. it must be her who would featured you.. LOL

Huge thanks to you both! @cicisaja is one of my most firm supporters and followers. I love to have you around. Sending my best wishes!

Nice informational post, @ravijojla!

Congratulations on being featured in an entry for the Pay It Forward Contest by @dipoabasch

Thanks, @tricowski :-) It was a pleasure making it. I was surprised to see it noticed so fast. Good feeling for sure!

He he, must have been a Cesar Salad🤣🤣🤣

Posted using Partiko Android

Salads eeeeevrywhere...:-)

Fascinating dish! Thanks for sharing the recipe with @cicisaja - now we can all try it!

Great post! I found you because @dipoabasch featured you in the Pay it Forward Curation contest. Keep up the great work!

Thank you viking-ventures! You have always been my role model in that contest. Your kind words mean a lot to me!
Best wishes :-)

This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here

Highly appreciated. Your recognition is made my day! :-)

Except for the veal tongue 🤢 This sounds yummy and it certainly looks good in the photo! Even though it might be called "American" Salad, I've never heard of anything similar in the US!

Well, @thekittygirl the recent recipe doesn't contain the veal tongue anyway. As for the "American" Salad, I have no idea what this may be. I guess, if we google it, there will be numerous variations claiming the name. Maybe, we should refer to a renowned American Chef to introduce more light on the matter.

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