Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art Opening! Ksenia Golubkov (Ксения Голубкова)

Image lifted from this online article

The Samovar is not just about literature and food! Tomorrow, October 1, from 6 to 9pm you can begin your month festively by stopping in at the opening of Ksenia Golubkov's latest art exhibit. Come enjoy her beautiful batik-on-silk designs, or whatever it is she is working on lately. Here's a link to her site, where you can get a preview of her work…

Aleksandr Kabakov tonight at 7:30!

If you don't already know and enjoy Aleksandr Kabakov's funny, satirical, big-hearted stories, or even if you do, you will surely enjoy his appearance in person (in Russian) tonight at the Sammy. A successor to Zoshchenko? You tell me.

Here's an excerpt from a story called «Миллион», about a man who soothes his insomnia thinking about what he would do with a million bucks, to whet your literary appetite:

Да: живет Н.И. Огоньков, конечно, в Москве – где же у нас, кроме Москвы, человек получает тысячу долларов в месяц и ещё о чем-то мечтает?

О, Москва, Москва, поразительный город! Кто только не живёт в нём, кто только не вдыхает жадно его несвежий, но прекрасный воздух, выдыхая вместе с азотом или чем там ещё свои страстные желания… Его колеблющиеся в горячем мареве башни и висящие в огненных закатах мосты, его слишком широкие, но непроезжие проспекты и изрытые тружениками благоустройства тротуары, его пыльные парки и памятники, размножающиеся, как кролики…

Всё это, отвратительное и чарующее, окутано жаждой обладания, исходящей от коренных и, главным образом, от приезжих жителей.

Все хотят её, эту блядскую Москву, наутро забывающую, что она обещала случайному обладателю ночью, когда он, горячечно вертясь на ложе бессонницы, планировал долгую совместную жизнь и отдалённое счастье.

Будь моею, Москва! Отчего же нет, дорогой? Пожалуйста. С удовольствием. Утро вечера мудренее, ты проснёшься и удивишь всех своим проектом (проект, проект, как же иначе! всё и у всех теперь проект), и они понесут тебе деньги, а ты отдашь эти деньги мне, Москве, и мы станем с тобой жить вечно, во взаимной любви… Спи.

И он спит, а утром – хрен ему вместо денег за проект! И бредёт он по Москве, все его толкают, и нет ему здесь места.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading This Tuesday: New Russian Fiction!

Come hear it for yourselves, for free, in Russian and English: CEC ArtsLink and Tin House Books are launching a new, bilingual volume called Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia. Finally, we're beyond "post-Soviet"! Authors and translators will read with their own lips! Reception! Tuesday, September 22, at 7pm. You can read more about this and related events here, and even RSVP on facebook to ensure they order enough zakuski for the reception.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Beautiful Women at the Samovar!

These women refused to be identified by name, because they were having Too Much Fun on Ladies' Night Out. Same goes for the lovely lass celebrating her birthday. She hadn't counted on Tort po-Kievsky and a rousing table-side birthday song! Note the photo in the background, in which founders Joseph Brodsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov seem happy to join in celebrating. By the end of the evening, everyone spoke flawless Russian.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

But what about the food, you ask?

Recently, I tried to wrest from Roman Kaplan the Samovar's recipe for the delicious beet soup spelled in our pathetic Latin letters variously as borsht, borshcht, borscht, or really however you want, but economically lettered in Russian as борщ. O, борщ! Your color so deeply pink, your taste so rich and hearty in winter, so refreshing in summer! You vary seasonally, you are endlessly attractive, you can be eaten (in Russia) or drunk (in America) hot or cold. Борщ, you are an ethnographic history of central and eastern Europe and Asia—from our family recipe we can trace (forgive the pun) our roots.

Roman was—there is no better word—cagey. Lynn Visson's The Russian Heritage Cookbook: A Culinary Heritage Preserved in 360 Authentic Recipes, newly updated and republished in 2009, happened to be lying on the table. He picked it up and said, «Sometimes we use this one.» I looked. There were several pages of recipes. I glanced over them and picked one out. «This one?» He looked. «Yes,» he replied. «But we don't use meat…we make our own stock, from beef…no celery…potatoes, yes…» And so on.

I'll keep trying, folks. And in the meantime you can't go wrong with Visson's truly authentic recipes—a lifetime of experience and research has gone into the making of that book. Or try Please to the Table, a delightful literary and gastronomical exploration of recipes from across the former Soviet Union. For the Samovar's own recipe, we may ultimately have to content ourselves with having the борщ onsite. But Roman did promise to share some vodka recipes soon…

Clearly, the poison was not in the glass in front of him!

If you remember William Goldman's classic fairytale film, The Princess Bride, you will recognize here (photo copyright by Alexander Izbitser) the multi-talented Wallace Shawn, who played the lovable and ill-fated villain Vizzini. Vizzini lost the duel of wits with the masked hero over a poisoned glass of wine. At the Samovar the other night, Shawn appears to have chosen the correct glass, with the result that the evening was probably more like My Dinner with Andre. Or maybe it was reminiscent of Vanya on 42nd Street (just 10 blocks away!), another of Shawn's collaborations with Andre Gregory. In the end, it may turn out to have been the raw material for a new work from Shawn's own pen. Cheers, Mr. Shawn! Na zdorovie!