July 11, 2019

Swipe Me! Eat Me! Watch Me!


Swipe Me! Eat Me! Watch Me!
Ukha, of which there was much this week. Wikimedia Commons

Throwback Thursday

Peter Tchaikovsky
Peter Tchaikovsky. / Wikimedia Commons

On July 11, 1877, Peter Tchaikovsky wrote a letter — one that was never published due to the censorship of his personal correspondence. Tchaikovsky’s letters were censored for a variety of reasons, some to eliminate references to his homosexuality, but others for far more mundane reasons, like swearing. Read more about Tchaikovsky’s letters here on Russian Life. {subscription required}


Adventurous Ads and Conspicuous Consumption

1. 1 swipe = 1 vote. One Yabloko Party member running for Petersburg city deputy is literally making himself attractive to voters. He created a Tinder profile where he markets himself as Deputy Charming to voters’ Cinderella. It’s a great publicity stunt, of course, but there’s more to it than that. Most social media platforms, like VKontakte, have strict rules about political campaigns, whereas Tinder provides all the “hyperlocal targeting” and none of the strings (if you’re outside the U.S, that is). Plus, we’re not going to lie — it feels good getting swiped right on Tinder.

Candidate's Tinder profile
But the real question is, why 642 “Earth and Universe”? Earth is already part of the universe. / Tinder

2. Quiet flows the Don, and tasty flows the fish soup. On July 6, fans of fish soup congregated at the Donskaya Ukha Festival, a cultural initiative of the Rostov regional government that marks its twelfth year this year. Ukha, which is claimed as a local invention by Rostov region, is made from freshwater fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and herbs. Sounds simple, right? But don’t be deceived: the festival this year featured no fewer than twenty different kinds of ukha, one of which was cooked with a full liter of vodka. All of them draw on the Don River’s plethora of fish and Cossack culinary traditions. And of course, all of them are equally tasty.

3. Surf’s up! In Petersburg, you can do many things with liquids: You can drink, or if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can go wakeboarding in the streets. After an evening of unusually heavy rains, one Petersburger hooked himself to the back of a car and performed daring stunts while the car drove him along. Don’t test the waters on your own, though. It turned out that the Petersburger is a professional wakeboarder who did it for an ad. Compared to him, the rest of us are kids in floaties.

Man wakeboarding in Petersburg street
Taming the mythic Petersburg floods. / mike_milenin

Blog Spotlight

Everyone knows Leo Tolstoy was a great writer, but did you know he was also a mediocre biker? Find out more in this blog post from June, and feel better about the fact that you probably bike better than Tolstoy.

In Odder News

Robot waving Tatarstan flag
Welcome to Kazan! / Kazan’ Kriminal’naya
  • Have you ever liked Pushkin’s poetry so much that you wanted to eat it? Then take heart: the Pushkin Museum’s café in Moscow now serves dishes named for Pushkin quotes.

Quote of the Week

“We beg you not to fall into the ash dump in the pursuit of selfies!”

— The Siberian Generating Company, warning tourists not to get too close to a picturesque but mildly toxic turquoise ash-dumping lake

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Chekhov Bilingual

Chekhov Bilingual

Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955