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Red Threat

While some immigrants assimilate as quickly as possible, some stay foreign. The Laotian and Cambodian kids I played with as a girl were so Asian: barefoot all the time, weaving long Chinese jump-ropes from scavenged rubber bands, eating green plums from neighboring fruit trees, with salt and hot sauce. Some of their parents never really learned English, even after many years in Portland. The southeastern Asians pretty much stuck to themselves, and by the late 1980s, they’d formed little cliques of attractive, popular kids with highly-styled bangs and superior pencil erasers, and seemed to prefer their exclusivity to integration. The Russians didn’t really go that route. They tried to adapt fast. I remember when my brother and I first met the Ukrainian kids that moved into the apartment complex across the street from ours. Alex (Sasha) was my brother’s age, and Natalya was my age, and having satisfied that basic childhood criterion for meeting, they were an easy fit for friendship. I loved how Russian they looked, in the dated, 1970s style of their clothes, their jarring bone structure. The word for their hair color is "rossiye," meaning "of Russia" − dishwater blonde is the national hair color of Russia − and theirs was always boy-messy or held up with big clip-on bows. Even if you put these kids in brand new American clothes you could spot them as foreign from a mile away, but most of them had completely ditched their accents by the end of high school.

My dad, having been a duck-and-cover kid during the Eisenhower administration, viewed the immigration of Ukrainians to Portland as very bad, indeed. He harbored the type of old-school xenophobia against Russkies that’s ordinarily reserved for dudes his dad’s generation. He was still pissed about the effects of the Russian Revolution on Volga Germans like us, as though it’d happened to him personally. He really didn’t like me or Jeremy spending time with our new

some tender white cake smeared with raspberry jelly and sour cream. Krasnogorova 1 “Fresh Off the Boat” . trying to pick up bits of the language each time. less purple).comrades (aka Those Fucking Pinkoes). and I felt like my presence in the living room was an invasion. It was decorated with precious keepsakes from the Motherland like wooden matryoshka and an Orthodox crucifix. and Natalya and Sasha shared the single bedroom. and Natalya cleared some space on the table. Krasnogorova said something in Russian. More importantly. Mrs. scrawling down phonetic notes on polite greetings and thank-yous. We’d been over a number of times. The parents slept in a hide-a-bed in the living room. the smell of foreign food hit me in the face when I entered their home. more garlicky. After we’d enjoyed a cup of hot tea with lots of milk and sugar. we were treated to nibbles of Russian home cooking like homemade pork rinds. Like in so many FOB1 households. I was actually fairly eager to try more Russian food (this being my glimpse into world more interesting than my mundane own). a spoonful of Ukrainian borscht (meatier and oilier than regular borscht. Mrs. I used to love going to the Krasnogorovs' apartment. and made up an excuse about needing to stay after school so I could accept the invitation. and other such conversation pieces as plastic chrysanthemums in dry vases and inspirational greeting cards taped to the walls. that the parents’ privacy should not have priority. This was so bizarre to me. Jeremy and I were invited to an afternoon supper at their apartment. but oddly satisfying. These flavors of their old home were unusual. but was also usually too busy being pissed off about other things to notice we were still spending time with them. One time.

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 2 carrots. Jeremy and I looked at each other.proudly laid the food down in front of us. her eyes searching for the reaction on our faces. and giggled a little before digging right in. but not being able to read the English directions. peeled and diced 2 ribs celery. “America food. I was so excited to see what she'd prepared for us − what exotic fare was I to behold this time? She'd cooked us macaroni and cheese from a box and hot dogs. then at our friends. The hot dog was boiled like a sausage and served bunless with ketchup. lamplight glinting off a gold-crowned incisor as she smiled.    Recipe: Ukrainian borscht The main difference between Ukrainian and other bor scht is that Ukrainians add fatback that's been pounded with garlic. A lot of recipes want you to boil everything separately and combine at the end. diced 1 cup diced onion 1.5 cups (or 12 oz can) chopped tomatoes . She’d boiled the macaroni and sprinkled the orange cheese powder on top like a seasoning. had taken a few liberties with the preparation methods.5 cup diced red bell pepper 6 cups beef stock 1. but who wants to wash all those dishes? Serves 8.” she nodded shyly.

incidentally. In your finest soup pot. celery and onions) with the red bell pepper until the onion is glossy and translucent. smokers. peeled and finely diced (into a brunoise. too. Take a tip from me. Sauté your mirepoix (carrots. you'd do well to begin smashing the garlic in the lard with a fork or a mortar and pestle. Simmer an additional half hour. You'll never get the smell out. 4. diced salt and pepper to taste 3 cups finely sliced cabbage 2 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons lard or bacon fat 1 cup cooked (or 1 can) white beans Garnish: Chopped fresh dill and parsley Sour cream Chilled vodka Steps: 1. During this time I recommend you start chilling a bottle of vodka in the freezer. 3. if you've an excellent knife and lots of patience) 2 fist-sized potatoes. bay leaf. Add the cabbage and potatoes and add the proper amount salt and pepper.2 bay leaves 4 fist-sized beets. This will already start your home to smelling lovely. and never do this directly onto your beloved Boos block. Add the beef stock. and this is why their food is so highly seasoned. heat the oil over medium-high heat. and many Russians are. Many chefs are smokers. tomatoes and beets and bring to a boil. 2. Reduce heat to mediumlow and simmer for about a half hour. While the pot is returning to the simmer. dictated by your palate and good sense. and then one day you'll be eating sliced . Smokers tend to require more seasoning to suit their tastes.

6.pineapple and wonder why it tastes like charcuterie. 5. about 5 minutes. Serve with a small glass of chilled vodka. so the garlic can simmer in the half hour). Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. and add a quenelle of sour cream (or a blob. Add the beans and let the pot simmer until the beans are warmed through. if you're coarse) and a sprinkle of chopped herbs to each. Add the garlic and fat to the pot and give it a stir (this should've only taken a minute or so. Na sdarovya! .