For my husband's bday this year, I suggested the kids give him an "experience". (I knew he'd also be getting a whole host of thoughtfully crafted pipe cleaner and tape creations.) My older son was thrilled with this prospect and started listing off all of the fun things the two of them could do together. My younger son nodded wisely and said from the backseat, "I think I'll take him someplace he's never been. Like Russia!" Glancing in the rear view mirror I questioned the cost (and logistics) of that sort of gift, and encouraged him to think of something, well, a bit more reasonable. "I know!" he exclaimed. "We could turn our house into Russia!" Right. "That's a neat idea. Let's think a little bit more about that one," I said hoping he'd come up with something a little easier to execute. But days went by and the excitement about a Russian extravaganza grew. "How about if we made a Russian meal, and you picked out a Russian book or movie or something?" I suggested, knowing that was one area I could help out with. "Super!! That is exactly what daddy would want", my 5-year-old assured me, nodding his head.
And so, that is how we ended up with a Russian feast yesterday. A quick Wiki search of Russian cuisine resulted in, "a large boiled piece of meat cooked in a soup or porridge, and then used as second course or served cold (particularly in jellied stock); offal dishes (liver, tripe, etc.), baked in pots together with cereals; whole fowl dishes or parts of fowl (legs or breasts), or a large piece of meat (rump) baked on a baking tray in an oven, so-called 'zharkoye'." Eew.
I think my husband is still scratching his head at the randomness of it all, but it ended up being a delicious (family dinner) trip to Russia: blinis (store bought, Whole Food's seafood section) topped with sour cream and 1/2 with sour cherry jam, 1/2 with smoked salmon + my adaptation of a "traditional" salad Olivier off of a Russian cuisine site (potatoes + peas + carrots + hard-boiled eggs with a homemade vinaigrette-- I skipped the pickles and mayo, ick) + meatball stroganoff (a recipe I had kicking around from my personal chef days, which used to be a client favorite).