A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for January, 2009

Mimoza salad

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This is a traditional Soviet party dish, so put on your party hat, cause it’s gonna be GRATE! (Sorry, I just can’t help myself. Bad puns are like a disease.) You’ll need:

  • A can of your favorite fish. I used сайра (sorry; I don’t know how to say it in English!), which looks a lot like a sardine and is similar in taste to tuna.
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  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 large onion (any kind will do, but unless you’re really an onion nut, I would recommend green or red, as these are slightly milder in flavor)
  • 2 large potatoes (your preferred kind)
  • A healthy amount of mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the eggs, carrots, and potatoes for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the fish into a paste and spread an even layer on the bottom of a plate:

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Cover with a layer of mayonnaise. I don’t love mayo, so I tried to use as little as possible, but this is literally the glue that holds the whole dish together, so don’t spread it too sparingly:

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When the eggs, carrots, and potatoes have finished boiling, let them cool. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, grate the whites, and spread them evenly on top of the layer of mayo paste you just added:

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Here add a very thin layer of mayo (this is the only time it is recommended to be sparse). Next grate the carrots and spread them on top of the whites.

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Add another normal layer of mayo (as before on top of the fish). Chop the onion as finely as possible (very important! I was lazy and left my pieces fairly large, and it proved quite difficult to spread the mayo evenly and to add the next layer to the salad, as you can see in the picture). Add this as the next layer.

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You get the pattern. Spread another normal helping of mayo as evenly as possible. Now grate the potatoes and add them as the next layer.

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Spread your last layer of mayo, again your normal amount. If you’re really not into blander food, and you know you’re going to add salt and pepper eventually, this is the best time to do so. When you’ve sprinkled and spiced to your heart’s content, crush the egg yolks as finely as possible and sprinkle them evenly on top of the potatoes.

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All that remains are the decorations! Dig in and enjoy. Priatnovo apetita!

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My experience while in Israel during the war

This was my first time in a country in the midst of a war.

I mean, this was my first time in a country other than my own in the midst of a war.

I wasn’t scared. I never am in Israel. I always feel surprisingly safe there. Whereas in Dnepropetrovsk and for four years in New Haven it was dangerous for a young woman to walk alone at night, even in the better neighborhoods, I am extremely comfortable wandering about Tel Aviv or Haifa on my own. There is comparatively little violent crime, or even petty theft, and although there is a chance of being killed by a Hezbollah rocket or a bomb on a bus, there’s absolutely nothing one can do to prevent that or even prepare for it. It is so entirely random, that it’s not worth worrying about, and so I feel completely safe. Read the rest of this entry »

Hanukkah

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Hanukkah in Dnepropetrovsk isn’t too different from Hanukkah in the States, really. We light the chanukkiah each night and say the brachot. We eat latkes and suvganiot (although here, suvganiot are much more popular than in the US, since “ponchiki,” as they’re called in Russian, are already a popular fried dessert). We sing songs and spin the dreidle, and although I didn’t see any gelt, I did see some Israeli dreidles that say “A great miracle happened here” instead of there.

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Volunteering in Donetsk as we open DGU

Be sure to check out the official Do Good, Ukraine! articles about these events!!

10:45 I arrived at the Workers’ Cultural Hospital 15 minutes later than planned, since Seriozha (my driver) and I got a little lost in the big city of Donetsk. Dasha, organized as ever and arranging twelve things at once on her two cell phones, was waiting for me outside the entrance. We tell Seriozha that we’ll be back in less than an hour, and then rush up the stiars to the children’s oncology ward.

10:50 We had to put blue plastic slippers over our feet before entering the floor. I could see as soon as I walked through the double doors from the stairs that the performance had already begun. Standing outside the doorframe of one of the rooms are five young students about my age, dressed as a cat, a crow, a little girl with pigtails, an old man with a straw hat and a handlebar mustache, an old woman with a cane, and a princess, all in gold. Another student, dressed as a young boy, runs out of the room and frantically changed into a new costume, while happy children’s music is playing “onstage.” He buckles new pants over his shorts, throws on a fur vest, a fake beard and mustache, and a Russian fur hat, before hunching over on a cane. Just in time for his cue, he walks back into the room where the performance is taking place. I move over to stand with a few parents and volunteers outside the door to get a better view. There must be twenty children there, plus at least one parent for each child. It’s a good crowd, stuffed in a fairly small room. Most kids are sitting on their parents’ laps. Some, not many, are on the floor. There are a few really little ones, maybe 2 or 3 years old, quite a few 4-9 year olds, and one or two 10-12 year olds. Some are wearing sanitary masks over their mouths. About half are bald. All of them look like they were enjoying the performance.

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