Soviet bestseller - "A book about tasty and healthy food"

Even in tsarist Russia, Elena Molokhovets's book "A Gift to Young Housewives, or a Means to Reduce Household Expenses" was very popular. This culinary encyclopedia was first published in 1861, and then reprinted 28 times, with a total circulation of approximately 300, 000 copies. By the way, the writer herself died in Petrograd in 1918 from exhaustion. Elena Molokhovets herself knew the recipes for thousands of dishes, but there was nothing to cook from at that time.

After the revolution, the book Molokhovets, whose advice was used by millions of housewives, was forgotten. Somehow, the recipes for sterlet fish soup and hazel grouse with sauce did not fit into the new era. A new cookbook was needed, consisting of recipes for simpler dishes available to the Soviet people.

In 1936, a Soviet delegation headed by People's Commissar for the Food Industry Anastas Mikoyan traveled to the United States. The People's Commissar was tasked with getting acquainted with the state of affairs in the American food industry and purchasing samples of some types of equipment with the aim of using them in the Soviet Union. Or, as Mikoyan himself said: "Combine the Russian revolutionary sweep with American efficiency."

The trip, I must say, was fruitful. Installations for the production of mayonnaise, ketchup, hamburgers were brought to the USSR. And Mikoyan took the lead in the compilation and publication of a Soviet cookbook with recipes for healthy and affordable dishes. Employees of the Research Institute of Nutrition and experienced chefs were involved in the work. In 1939, Soviet citizens received a long-awaited gift - a "Book about tasty and healthy food." The circulation was not small, 100, 000 copies, but after a few days it became impossible to buy the book, it was immediately sold out. And this despite the fact that the book was not cheap for that time - 10 rubles.

This culinary encyclopedia not only described in detail the methods of preparing a wide variety of dishes, but also contained a large number of quotes from the Kremlin leaders that the inhabitants of the Soviet Union should not only work hard, but also eat well.

By the way, I constantly felt the influence of the “Book about tasty and healthy food” policy. It was reprinted dozens of times, and not only culinary, but also political changes were regularly introduced into it. For example, in the second half of the fifties, the names of Stalin, Molotov, Beria were no longer mentioned. And in 1974, the compilers did not say a single word about the person thanks to whom this book appeared - Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan.

The names of the dishes and ingredients Mikoyan borrowed from the United States have also changed. Popcorn was called cornflakes, hamburger was called patty in dough, and ketchup was called tomato sauce.

When the fishing industry was developing rapidly in the USSR, fish dishes were added to the book. The catch of sturgeon was prohibited - the corresponding dishes were not included in the next edition.

In the post-Soviet era, the book market was flooded with a variety of publications of cookbooks, but even now the Book of Tasty and Healthy Food is kept in many families as a reminder of the distant and romantic era of the Soviet Union.