Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, February 14, 1998

Review of A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru, with a recipe for Garbanzo Balls.

AuthorVioleta Autumn
Publisher101 Productions
Length191 pages
Book Rating8
A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru: Cover for A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru.; Russia; cookbooks; Jews; Peru

A friend of mine took one look at the title and said “now that’s a limited market.” In the foreword, author Violeta Autumn writes:

In the late 20’s and early 30’s there was an influx of Russian-born Jewish people to Peru. They were young people from the small towns lining the frontiers of Russia and Roumania, along the river Prut in the region of Bessarabia.

It wasn’t long before the shock of arrival wore off and they were eating seviche and dancing the marinera with just as much gusto as their genial and accepting hosts. Immigrants as a breed only last one generation; that is what this book is all about. It is an attempt at recording one moment in history that happens to taste awfully good.

This is a beautifully crafted book. Each of her mother’s recipes is hand-written calligraphically and embellished pictorially. The only colors used are differing shades of orangeish-brown.

The recipes themselves are as varied as the title suggests: Pickled Herring is followed by ‘Jumus’ (Hummus), which is followed by Black Bean Soup and then Pesto Menestrón. And from the refreshing and simple seviche (fish ‘cooked’ by the acidic action of lemon juice)to the ‘rugged Russian cookies’, all are very tasty recipes.

There are a variety of sections. Snacks, Relishes, and Appetizers includes Onion & Matzo, dill pickles, and Jrein (a beet and horseradish relish). Soups includes Latin Lentil Soup, Cold Borsht with Sour Cream, and Chupe Chowder. Fish includes Seviche (wonderful!), and Okopa. Vegetables includes Ginger Carrot Salad, Papas a la Huancaina, and Polita’s Malisnik. Beef, Pork, Chicken, Dove, Duck, Rabbit includes Prakes (sweet and sour stuffed cabbage), Pelotitas (Jewish meatballs in Peruvian sauce), Norita’s Chancho con Tamarindo (pork in tamarind sauce), and a number of recipes with shmaltz (rendered chicken fat).

Doughy Things, Pasties includes Nocques, Potato Dumplings, Varenikes, and a variety of Empanadas and Knishes. For Desserts, Cookies, Pastries we have Mrs. Gidelman’s Flan, Arroz con Leche, Cachitos, Nut Torte, Apricot Soufflé, and Picarones. Finally, Breads consists of Koilich, Bublichki/Rosquitas (pretzels), Peisaj’ke Bagel, and Povet’l (prune jam).

If you ever run across this book in a used bookstore, I strongly recommend taking a look at it. You will know immediately if it is the kind of book you want to read and cook from.

Garbanzo Balls

  • 15 oz can drained garbanzos,
  • 2 beaten eggs,
  • 1 tblsp finely minced onion,
  • ¼ tsp salt,
  • ⅛ tsp pepper,
  • 3 tblsp matzo meal,
  • 2 sliced onions,
  • 2 sliced hot peppers, seeds removed,
  • 2 tblsp olive oil,
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley,
  • ⅓ cup wine vinegar.
  1. Grind garbanzos.
  2. Add eggs, minced onion, salt, pepper, matzo meal.
  3. Let rest 10 minutes.
  4. Make into 1 inch balls and deep fat fry until golden.
  5. Drain.
  6. Make the hot sauce by mixing onions, hot peppers, olive oil, parsley, wine vinegar. Marinate one hour.

A Russian Jew Cooks in Peru

Violeta Autumn

My cost: $5.95

Recommendation: Wonderful

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