Russian cuisine presentation at Walnut Hills High School
On Thursday, December 5, CSEES director Dr. Angela Brintlinger visited three Russian language classes at Walnut Hills High School. Over the course of three hours, the 38 students prepared four different Russian dishes to make an entire meal: shchi, kulebyaka, salad Olivier, and compot for dessert. The night before, Brintlinger prepared and baked one kulebyaka for the students to eat during the visit, and prepped ingredients so that the students could assemble a second kulebyaka. The Walnut Hills Russian teacher, Johanka Hart-Tompkins, then baked that kulebyaka at home so that the rest of the students could try it the next day. Kulebyaka is a baked fish pie that dates back to imperial times when it would be a centerpiece at an elaborate meal or feast for guests. Cutting into the kulebyaka while serving allows diners to see the layers of the pie’s ingredients.
Using a crockpot, the students cooked up shchi, the quintessential Russian soup. While less well known in the U.S. than borscht, which is technically a Ukrainian soup, shchi is a traditional soup from Russia whose most prominent ingredient is cabbage rather than beets. To make salad Olivier, the students chopped boiled potatoes and carrots, hard boiled eggs, pickles, and poached chicken, and mixed with canned peas and lots of mayonnaise. Finally, to complete their meal, they steeped apples and strawberries in hot water with sugar and lemon juice to make compot, a sweet, concentrated fruit drink popular in Russia as a dessert. Throughout the visit, Brintlinger spoke Russian with the students and taught them about the connections between Russian culture, history, and cuisine.
The Russian language program at Walnut Hills is one of the largest in the state, and many future Buckeyes start their Russian language journey there. Each spring, students from Walnut Hills participate in the Ohio K-12 Russian Olympiada, held on the main campus of OSU, which is organized by CSEES and the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures (DSEELC). CSEES and DSEELC have maintained a strong connection with the Cincinnati high school, sharing pedagogical consultations and guest lectures as well as dance and music performances.