> >From another list. Can anyone help?
>A member of my barony, of Russian persuasion, is trying to find out more on
>Russian cheesemaking in period.
I already answered this one on the SCA Cooks list, so I'll just post my
reply here, for the edification of the masses ;-)
>Does anyone know if the Domostroi has anything about cheese
>or should I point her to one of the secondary sources like "Bread and Salt"?
Why, yes, the Domostroi does have info about cheese. Cheese was recommended
to be produced at home (Pouncy:150), in order that you [the homeowner]
would "celebrate your good fortune every day. You will never have to go to
market." So cheese was also commercially produced.
Cheese was kept in either the cellar, the icehouse, or in the small
storerooms (Pouncy:165). The text lists many different foodstuffs, and
doesn't say which was stored where.
The above is from the SCA-period parts of the Domostroi. There is no
mention of how the cheese was made in the Domostroi, in either the period,
or non-period sections. I checked the original Russian, to see what was
being translated as "cheese," but it is just "syr", the generic word for
"cheese." I was hoping that it might be "tvorog" (a certain type of
Russian cheese) or something more specific.
In "Bread and Salt" (I'm going to abbreviate it "BaS", and may I say that
boy, you are good. You actually made me move some computer equipment
around, just to get to my cooking files.), cheese is mentioned as one of
the items eaten on Easter Sunday, as well as placed on the altar (a common
practice even today, for parts of the Easter feast to be brought to chuch
to be blessed) [BaS:98-99]. Cheese was also used as a filling in breads or
rich breads (korovai) in the very early 17th century [BaS:116]. There is a
mention of caviar being pressed into cheese [BaS:125], but no date that I
could find (it's hot, gimme a break).
Now since I couldn't check the original Russian for the Easter references,
it might possibly, *possibly* be that the cheese in question eventually
became part of what is called today (don't know about then, but likely the
same) "paskha," a sweetened cheese mixture that was molded into a pyramid
and marked with the Cyrillic initials "XB", which stand for Khristos
Voskres (Christ is Risen). Think of it as a slightly grainy, crustless
cheesecake. Very yum. It is traditionally made with tvorog, a dry cottage
cheese. Tvorog can also be pressed and drained, so that it is much more
firm and can actually be sliced (kinda crumbly, like feta). This is what I
would keep in mind when thinking about period Russian cheeses, that they
may have been very similar to the modern tvorog. Easily made at home,
could be pressed and dried, which would keep much longer than in the more
To sum up, yes, the Russians ate cheese (at least the upper-middle classes
did, and perhaps their servants), but no, we don't know what type of
cheese, or how it was made. Hope this saves some research!
--Yana (Geez, I just rejoined the list yesterday!)