40 Degrees East: an anatomy of vodka by Nicholas Ermochkine

By Nicholas Ermochkine

Synopsis: Vodka is having fun with exceptional acceptance within the West this day. specialized vodka bars are starting all over the place Continental Europe and the united states. it truly is turning into more and more trendy to drink vodka neat. the pinnacle eating places in long island, Paris and London now not have misgivings approximately serving caliber iced vodka with fantastic gourmand dishes. top rate vodkas are on a regular basis came upon at the cabinets of retail wine shops reserved for cognac, euax-de-vie and whiskey. yet mockingly, in Poland and to a lesser measure in Russia, vodka's recognition is waning because the center type realize wines and spirits imported from the West. what's occurring the following? This neat ebook explodes the myths surrounding vodka, unravels its heritage and describes its creation. the fashion and tradition of vodka consuming are articulated in spellbinding model. this can be actually one for the line.

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Coming back to the legal battle for the right to use the word vodka, it is probably fortunate, at least from a neutral point of view for consumers outside Poland, that the Poles lost. Consequently, the right to use the word vodka is not restricted to the Polish product. And so today, we can still enjoy a large variety of vodkas, not confined exclusively to Polish Wyborowa and other Polish products (which would have very certainly declined in quality, if it had maintained a monopolistic domination in the market).

With the exception of the rare aged vodkas («starkas», which are waning in popularity) and some perfumed vodkas («extensions», which seem to become increasingly popular), clear vodkas are really too austere to have any appeal as after-dinner spirits. If a «digestif» is wanted, the East Europeans themselves will very often, have cognac available from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, or other wine-producing areas in close proximity. The other «digestifs» popular in Eastern Europe are variants of liqueurs, bitters (ranging from the excellent Czech Karlsbad Becher alias Becherovka to the unpalatable Hungarian Unicum or Latvian Rigas Balsams), or fruit brandies (Slivovitz-type).

We deal with what is generally available, either in restaurants or delis in the West, and give tips for what to go for when visiting Russia or Poland. As explained, the Russian and Polish traditions are different, so we have given them separate treatment, save for the foods which are common to both. 25 26 Nicholas Ermochkine and Peter Iglikowski Zakuski Common to both Russia and Poland but more popular with the Russians, «Zakuski» («zakuski» is already plural; hence, it takes no ‘s’ at the end) are appetizers served often as an abundant and ornate buffet, slightly suggestive of the Lebanese «mezze».

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