May 01, 1997

Poor Man's Caviar

If a Russian friend of modest income invites you for a dinner at his home, promising to treat you to some caviar, donÕt expect a bowl full of small, black fish eggs. For you will most likely end up helping yourself to a light brown mass of, well,  suspicious looking stuff.

Never mind the suspicions. Not only is this ÒcaviarÓ  palatable and appetizing, but some even think it is as delicious as the real thing. And, by the way, at the time of empty-shelved food stores, this caviar, made from yellow squash or zuccini, was one of the few available products. Luckily, the Soviet food industry had enough squash puree in supply.

(The Russian word for this squash is kabachok, often translated as “marrow.” Kabachok, as Darra Goldstein reports in her book, A Taste of Russia, also means “little tavern.” Apparently the clustering of seeds inside squash is said to be reminiscent of people “clustering in a tavern.”)

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