My beloved babushka (granny), Maria Pavlovna Soklokova (Dolgova), died when I was 6 months pregnant with my first son Lyova. Having had a few strokes, I am not sure she was even aware her great grandson was on his way. She would have loved him! Especially as he turned out to be such a great eater. I wish she could come for a family dinner just for 20 minutes and delight in Lyova’s love of food.
Her whole life was centred around food. She was a real old-fashioned housewife. Seeing her family sitting together and eating a meal was her idea of happiness. And there were not that many happy moments in her life. Born in 1921 in Western Russia, she witnessed Soviet collectivisation, hunger, war, she was taken to Germany as an Ostarbeiter (slave labourer), and was interrogated by Gestapo and the KGB alike. She was luckly though as she ended up in a loving family of a German labour general, who took her in as their own. She was proposed by two Germans and one Frenchman and eventually married my Ukrainian grandad. She never thought her life was extraordinary.
I am a mother of two and a former journalist. I never really liked to cook until I married my wonderful husband Tim, who cooks beautifully. He inspired me. I learned fast, as the basics of my love of food were laid during countless afternoons alone with my babushka, with nothing to do but help her make food: kotlety (meat balls), borsch, soups, cakes, vareniki... So I am now a pretty confident cook. Especially when it comes to making some of my childhood favourites. Russian/Ukrainian everyday food. The way babushka made it.
This blog is my way of saying goodbye to her. I will be writing about her life and I will be cooking her food. And thus saying that I love her and miss her very much.