The farm-to-table movement is alive and well in Novodugino, Russia, a rural outpost of about 3,000 people. I know this because Dammit Boy spent several weeks there and reported back on the daily life of the village he was visiting with his friend, Elena.
The story of why Noah and Elena were in Novodugino is for another time, deeply redemptive for Elena, who was born in Russia, sent to an orphanage as a child and returned to seek answers (she got them). I, of course, was interested in the food. I asked him one day over Facebook Messenger what kind of meat they had in the grocery store.
His reply was something to the effect that there are only sausages in the grocery store. For anything else, you have to go out back and kill it. Novodugino is trending.
So here are some of his greatest hits:
Oh, sorry. But vodka is one of his greatest hits. He was happily encouraged to down shots of it at many meals which lasted hours at a time. However, Russian people are smart. They always accompany their vodka with small bites of food.
Ah, here we go. This is the magnificent Herring Under A Fur Coat. It is the Russian version of Beef Wellington. It is layers of vegetables over a center of pickled herring with a liberal amount of mayonnaise binding it together. Mayonnaise is Noah’s favorite food. He was overjoyed that in Russia it comes in a pouch with a spout so you can just turn the spigot and let ‘er rip.
Look at this! Shredded chicken and spices folded in crepe-like wrappers, the aforementioned Fur Coat, potato salad and smoked fish. Please note the often colliding but somehow cheerily symmetrical patterns. Russians love their patterns.
Russians also love their mushrooms, which they forage in the forest. Novodugino trending.
After being served numerous meat patties by his hosts, Noah made this on his own. Let it be said that Dammit Boy had never ground his own meat but that is what you do in Novodugino because of the aforementioned “going out back to kill your dinner” lifestyle. There is no ground chuck in the grocery store. Trending.
There are even statues in honor of this. Kidding.
So before I get to the last culinary masterpiece, I want to say this to the people of Novodugino. Thank you for welcoming my boy with open arms. Thank you for the incredible hospitality you showed an American stranger. Thank you for not only sharing your food and drink with this native son of the South but for joyfully displaying the warmth and generosity of the Russian people. You have changed his life. Southern hospitality pales in comparison.
So Noah decided to prepare a dish beloved in the South for his new friends.
Yes, the people of Novodugino had never heard of macaroni and cheese. This exotic American import was a huge hit. He was asked for the recipe. It’s not Herring Under A Fur Coat, but then again what is?