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The Story Behind Doma Kitchen's 'Herring Under a Fur Coat'

Dec 22, 2015 06:11PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte, who is known for her modern twists on traditional Eastern European dishes, has added a special Russian treat to the restaurant's menu for Christmas week only: Shuba salad, also known as "Herring Under a Fur Coat."

The whimsically named dish contains beets, eggs, carrots, apples, potatoes, onions, mayonnaise and herring.

According to Doma Kitchen, this salad was created by merchant Anastas Bogomilov, who was an owner of the popular tavern and restaurant chain in Moscow at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a time of civil war and revolution in Russia, and as tavern visitors discussed the Russian future with patriotic fervor, they began to fight. In the process, they broke furniture and smashed plates during their drunken brawls.

To avoid these destructive outbursts, Bogomilov came up with the idea of making a well-nourishing zakuska (a starter) and a symbol of the public union in one dish. One of his cooks, Aristarkh Prokopcev, prepared and served a new salad called "shuba" for the New Year's Eve 1919 celebration. In the salad, the salted herring symbolized the proletariat, the red color of beetroots symbolized the red flag, and potatoes were the food of workers and peasants. "Shuba" was actually an acronym, with Sh standing for Chauvinism, U for Decay, B for Boycott, and A for Anathema; roughly translated as, "Death and Damnation to Chauvinism and Degradation."

Visitors and guests liked this salad and began to order it often. With the salad being fatty, guests couldn’t get drunk very fast, thus scuffles happened rarely, and furniture was left untouched.

Since "shuba" coincidentally happens to be a Russian word for "fur coat" as well, the salad's name became colloquialized to "Herring Under A Fur Coat," with the "fur coat" referring to the layers of vegetables and egg over the fish. Long after people forgot the origins of the salad, it remains an integral part of the festive Russian New Year's table. 

During Christmas week and beyond, visitors to Doma Kitchen can also enjoy Miksyte's assortment of Eastern European dishes such as borscht, pelmeni, and plov.

Doma Kitchen will be closed for Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, but it will be open during Christmas week and on New Year's Eve for regular hours.

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