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Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention and that’s true of many traditional dishes around the world. Once created for lack of better options, some foods win hearts – and stomachs – because they taste great and are easy to make. A good example is kulesh, a millet dish known as ‘warrior food’ because it can easily be cooked on an open fire. It was the staple dish for Soviet soldiers during World War II, and a modified version is prepared in Russian homes to this day.
To learn to make authentic Soviet army kulesh, Oscar and Glen join a group of military reenactors at the famous Khatenki airfield, where the legendary French Normandie-Niemen Fighter Aviation Regiment lived and worked side by side with Russian mechanics.
After chopping vegetables for the dish and wood for fuel, they spark up a real World War II military field kitchen and begin to assemble the ingredients. To Glen’s surprise, they include canned meat compliments of Uncle Sam’s Lend-Lease program. When the kulesh is ready, it needs to be delivered to the troops. Glen is tasked with carrying heavy food containers through the natural obstacle course of a snowy forest while under ‘friendly fire’ from a machine gun. That kulesh had better be good!
For a close up look at an authentic WWII Russian field kitchen, check out Taste of Russia, Episode 2.
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