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Why do we eat Olivier salad on New Year's Eve in Russia?

Restaurant Hermitage

Let's start with the history of the salad

Olivier salad, also called “winter salad”, is considered the main dish on the New Year's table in Russia, it has been so for many decades, since the times of the USSR, but the salad itself appeared even earlier in the masses.

It dates back to the 1860s and is named after the French-born Russian restaurateur Luciena Olivier. He was the owner of the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow. This place was very popular among Muscovites, the mores in the restaurant were French and the treats were appropriate. You could meet completely different people in the Hermitage: merchants, landowners, teachers of the main universities of Moscow, officials and nobles. In this restaurant, the writer Turgenev was greeted upon his return from abroad, the composer Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky celebrated his wedding here, and the writer Leo Tolstoy (who wrote the popular novel "War and Peace") also often spent time here.

The restaurant was wildly popular, but over time, people got tired of many dishes, and they began to have lunch and dinner in other places. To save the Hermitage from ruin, Lucien Olivier came up with a new dish that, in his opinion, should surprise the guests.

He put together the favorite dishes of Muscovites and put them all on one еplate. According to his plan, the guests were supposed to eat all the products separately, but they mixed them, which the chef did not like. The chef wanted the guests to contemplate the dish, but it was so delicious that people just ate and admired it. The restaurant has regained its popularity.

Salad Recipe

Today's recipe is quite simple: potatoes, carrots, green peas, cucumbers, onions, sausage (sometimes meat) and mayonnaise, but this was not always the case. In the time of Lucien Olivier, more refined products were added to the salad, such as beef tongue, black caviar, lobsters, but today it is difficult for a Russian person to imagine these products as part of an Olivier salad, because we are used to eating it as it is described below.

Detailed salad recipe:

  • boiled potatoes – 4 pieces

  • carrots – 1 piece

  • hard-boiled eggs – 4 pieces

  • boiled sausage "doktorskaya" - 300 grams

  • pickled or fresh cucumbers – 4 pieces

  • canned green peas – 1 can weighing 200 grams

  • mayonnaise sauce – 3-4 tablespoons

  • salt – to taste

Everything is sliced and mixed – it’s quite simple

Interesting facts and traditions about Olivier

  • The salad has a lot of names: "Russian", "Potato", "Stolichny", "Festive" and the second most popular name after "Olivier" is "Winter salad"

  • In the 90s of the twentieth century, meat in Olivier was finally replaced by sausage, this was due to a shortage of products in those years

  • In most restaurants abroad, olivier salad is called "Russian salad"

  • The largest olivier was prepared in the city of Orenburg (Russia), in December 2012 – 1841 kg. If you take 200 grams per serving, it would be enough for 9205 people

  • In the New Year, according to tradition, the salad is prepared in large quantities, so among people there is a comic expression "olivier basin".

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