By Sam Scott
On Saturday, January 31, the Russian House invited faculty, residents, and anyone else who might be interested to share a traditional Russian meal. In addition to the classic beet soup, Borschtfest included kompot, a kind of apple juice made by cooking the apples in water, which Russians have used for both drinks and preservation for centuries. For more solid food, the Russian House provided kotletey, latke-ish patties made from turkey and mushroom and miniature bulochki, miniature yeast rolls something like sweet pretzels. The entire event was filled with the sounds of Russian folk and rock music, streamed on the house’s television.
Taylor Yost (C’16) explains the history of the event: “I think it was last year the Russian Club president, Kristin Stockton decided to start Borschtfest. When you ask most people what they know about Russia, usually it’s borscht, which is the popular Russian soup, and we just thought it would be a great Russian club event to have a Borschtfest every year, where we make soup during winter, when everyone’s starting to get sick and needs a good old pick-me-up!”
The House also provided a fitting venue for the celebration of Russian culture, filled with souvenirs from the country, such as matryoshka dolls, Soviet flags, and a painting of the Baba Yaga. Asked to explain further about the nature of the House, Yost said, “The Russian House is just where different Russian students have the opportunity to live; we try to speak more Russian than normal. And if you look around, you can see little post-it notes with the Russian words for different things. That was Katya’s idea, our lovely Russian who lives in the house with us.”
Karl Afrikian (C’16) adds, “We do a lot of events as part of the Russian House and the Russian Club like Borschtfest and Maslenitsa, which comes after Spring Break. Sometimes they’re sponsored by the Russian Department as well, and anyone’s welcome to those if they are interested in learning about Russian culture. Or, post-Soviet or ex-Soviet nations.”