Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 161. Foie gras

Foie gras is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. The word is indeclinable, and officially its gender is neuter, but in everyday Russian life there is a tendency to decline it in feminine gender.

There are many ways of servicing foie gras, but most of all I like this one.

There is a heap of dandelion leaves, and there is the goose liver on the heap as if carelessly scattered and a bit roasted. It is breathing, as they say. On the side there are obligatory twenty big white gapes cut in halves and fried in goose fat. Everything is sprinkled with roasted pine nuts. And I’ve almost forgot, there should be a couple of well-done toasts. My mouth is watering, while I am writing this now.


I have to admit that I love to treat myself to foie gras.
However we are talking not about me, but about Sasha Popovitch. He too passionately loves foie gras now. And then, in the fall of 1966, when he just entered Kemerovo Medical Institute, and like the rest of them, was sent to a collective farm to dig potatoes, Sasha knew nothing about foie gras. That was the vicious policy the Communists had – farmers planted potatoes, weeding and especially digging was done by students, but information about foie gras was not provided neither to the farmers, nor the students whatsoever. Zhenya Romashov was the lucky one; they were assigned to clean hen houses. So they had no problems with food. They had chicken cooked in most different ways and abundance of eggs. Shura Popovitch together with the other did not get lucky on the collective farm they had been sent to, they were fed poorly. Though their young organisms demanded food, and demanded in a loud and persistent way. So Sasha together with his friend Edick Zemlianukhin wavered under the pressure and went to steal geese on the very same collective farm.

Don’t judge them strictly. Yes, they were stealing, but because of lack of food. They quickly got a hand of doing that, especially Edick, he was very gifted in general; that is why he is a chief physician at an acute care station in Kemerovo. And back then they had no less than goose soup every day. And about five people were fed together with them. Generally speaking for two weeks of harvesting they were the heroes and idols of a certain circle of initiates. Though, frankly speaking, practically everybody knew about the fact that geese were missing on the collective farm. However how and where, only the initiates knew.
After returning to classes the topic of geese was brought up again, but in the form of stories told during breaks and student parties, and with every other story it became more and more impressive.

And then as it usually happens the topic became out-of-date. However in 1971 a young lieutenant of medical service arrived to be placed on jobs Oleg Mukhopad, Sasha’s buddy. After graduating from Tomsk Military Medicine Academy he was assigned jobs as a head of medical corps to a military unit 21070, which was stationed in Kemerovo.
Their meeting was a happy and abundant one, and after the third Sasha, a sixth year student, already proposed himself for a position of a medical assistant, and after the fifth they remembered about geese.
Oleg did hired Sasha as a medical assistant, so one day the medical corps lieutenant and the sixths year student-almost a graduate, in that case not because of starvation, but pure foolishness went to the nearest village on a military jeep, nicknamed “a loaf” with intentionally stained with dirt car plates and armed with Sasha’s small-calibre gun.

In the village they shot a couple of geese practically in full view of dumb stricken locals, and before the villagers came to their senses drove away.

You, sure enough, remember lieutenant Schmidt’s “son” unforgettable Mikhail Panikovskiy from “ The Little Golden Calf” ( it is a famous satirical novel by Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, released in 1931). Mikhail Samuelevitch loved goose very much, and that was why he kept trying to steal a goose. The true boobies and goose lovers put at the steering wheel a career soldier Valera Lukashkin. In a couple of weeks they made the sally again. Things were going on like that for August-September. One morning after a regular expropriation, when their heads relatively cleared after “the yesterday’s”, suddenly they were struck by insight. Both of them became terribly ashamed and scared. If they were caught by the local men in the village, they would be at least generously let have it. And if they were caught by the cops…, it was scary even to think about that… And you say Panikovskiy.

Foie gras - is a synonym of gastronomic chic and cultural myth.

12 July, 2013

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #214040300528

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content