October 01, 1997

Apple Compote for the Soul

From the Soviet cookery bible, the Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, we know that “a product prepared by cooking purees from various types of apples with or without the addition of sugar is called povidlo.” You can see for yourself that this description is extremely similar to jam, with the only difference being that povidlo is made from crushed, and not whole, fruit.

During the Soviet years, jam was often called povidlo for ideological reasons. It is even rumored that one government member was given the personal mission of taking the foreign name “dzhem” off the menus of public catering enterprises, replacing it with the more neutral povidlo.

On the one hand, the Soviet leaders did povidlo a favor by making it famous. On the other, don’t be surprised if a Russian wrinkles up his nose on hearing the word “povidlo.” This simply means that he grew up on the “refined catering” of the socialist era. During that time, the expressions “pirozhki with povidlo” and “pirozhki with cat” meant about the same thing. It was something suspicious, a “test” for the stomach. For the meat and fruit fillings sold on the street and in cafeterias were not always of the best quality – to put it delicately.

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