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You are what you eat: Russian food and identity with Alissa Timoshkina

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Join us for an evening with food writer and curator of dining experiences, Alissa Timoshkina. She will speak about her debut cookbook Salt&Time: recipes from the Russian kitchen, in which she transforms perceptions of the food of the former Soviet Union and in particular her home Siberia – the crossroads of Eastern European and Central Asian cuisine – with a collection of 100 inviting recipes adapted for modern tastes and Western kitchens. In conversation with Zuka Zak - author of the best selling Polish cookbook ‘Polska’. A glass of wine and canapes are included in the ticket price.

In Salt & Time, Alissa Timoshkina transforms perceptions of the food of the former Soviet Union and in particular her home Siberia – the crossroads of Eastern European and Central Asian cuisine – with a collection of 100 inviting recipes adapted for modern tastes and Western kitchens.

Alissa writes evocatively about her memories of growing up in Siberia and travels across this vast country to share experiences of summers spent cooking and eating alfresco as well as the whole new set of food rituals that would be introduced with the onset of the paralysing cold of the bitter winters. Alissa celebrates Russian food outside of its conventional visual codes with dishes from Ashkenazi to Russian and Central Asian cuisines, as well as those that are authentic to Siberia alone, together with family classics and her own new interpretations of traditional flavour combinations.

Alongside recipes including her restorative Solyanka fish soup (a famous Russian hangover cure); fragrant Chicken with prunes; and delicious Napoleon Cake (the royalty of Soviet desserts); Alissa tests different Vodka Infusions and goes back to the roots of Russian cooking where she explores the mystery of cooking with nothing but salt and time in her chapter on Pickles & Ferments.

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Alissa Timoshkina came to the UK in 1999 from Russia to study and never looked back. Gaining a PhD in film history, she lectured and published on the subject of Russian and European cinemas, and also worked as curator and coordinator of film festivals in London. However, her passion for cooking and hosting dinner parties, gradually turned into an obsession and Alissa left her job to launch a new project: a cinema-supper club called KinoVino, which offers film screenings and sit-down dinners with unique menus inspired by films. Since its launch in May 2015, KinoVino has established a reputation as one of London’s most original projects, redefining the local food and film scene. Featured in British Vogue, Olive magazine, Vice, The Curious Pear, Khoollect, the Telegraph and on BBC Radio 4’s Food programme, KinoVino was named one of the 10 best supper clubs in London by Time Out. Alissa has also launched a private events branch of KinoVino, organising product launches and private gatherings. She regularly holds food popups and supper clubs where she explores the cuisine of the former Soviet Union. Alissa was also shortlisted for the 2017 Young British Foodie Awards.

For many, Russian food remains a mystery, tinted with the stereotypes of the Cold War and obscured by the complexities of contemporary Russian politics. I often find that Russian cuisine is trapped somewhere between two very opposing ideas: the romanticized notion of Russians eating blinis with caviar every morning, or a stark image of the Soviets gazing at bare market shelves to the soundtrack of their rumbling stomachs. So I feel it is finally time to paint a more authentic portrait. In this book, I would like to invite you to sit next to me at my Russian table, to share my memories of growing up in Siberia and to accompany me on a journey across the vast country as well as into its fascinating history.
— Alissa Timoshkina
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Zuza Zak is a writer and homecook, author of the popular Polska cookbook, which seeks to revitalise traditional Polish food and bring it to a wider audience. Zuza studied English, followed by History of Oriental and African Art: this background gives her a unique approach - she is interested in the history of food and it's meaning in peoples' lives. The food she cooks is both modern and nostalgic, always rooted in the vast lands of Eastern Europe.