“Herring Under a Fur Coat” is one of the standbys of the New Year‘s table, always part of the holiday gathering along with Salat Olivier, Soviet champagne, and tangerines. This salad has many variations… every housewife has her own variation, changing this or that ingredient, or how they’re arranged in the composition. RIA-Novosti offers you a version that’s considered a classic. Although this salad is commonly ascribed to Soviet housewives in the mid-1970s, there’s an interesting legend associated with this salad.
The tradesman Anastas Bogomilov, the landlord of a popular Moscow pub, supposedly invented it in the early twentieth century. At that time, due to the tumultuous revolutionary conditions, many of his customers would argue about the fate of the proletariat and the motherland over a glass of liquor. Disputes often ended in fistfights, with the combatants smashing crockery and furniture. Then, the enterprising merchant decided to create a salad that’d be a good and hearty snack, but at the same time, a symbol of unification of the peasantry and the proletariat. Therefore, Ш.У.Б.A (SH.U.B.A, in Russian, “fur coat”) allegedly derived as follows… SH = Шовинизм (shovinizm: chauvinism), U = Упадкa (upadka: decline), B = Бойкот (boikot: boycott), A = Анафема (anafema: anathema). Bogomilov combined herring (traditionally seen as working-class) with peasant onions, potatoes, and carrots, covering it all with beetroot, symbolising the “scarlet banner of the revolution”.
Did this favourite New Year’s salad once have an ideological significance? That’s hard to judge. One way or another, in time, “Herring Under a Fur Coat” became firmly entrenched on Soviet and Russian festive tables, becoming a real symbol of the holiday.
31 December 2012