The Noble Traditions of Adulteration

I occasionally spend time thinking about classic dishes and how they are typically executed. This often leads to thinking about how a version that cuts corners compared to the original often has considerable success, sometimes even to the point of dominating entirely.

The most famous example, I think, is mock turtle soup, which I assume was invented to give those not stinking rich a hint of paradise and also possibly to spare the few turtles left in the colonies. While traditionally made with the faces of calves I still consider it the vegetarian option compared to the original. It’s probably delicious, but I find eating turtles a bit unsavory.

Another example, which isn’t a blatant fake, but probably a slow metamorphosis, is ragù alla bolognese, which started out as a meat-based sauce with a touch of tomato, nowadays interpreted as a tomato based sauce with a bit of meat swimming around. (To be honest, the classic Swedish rendition isn’t too compelling either – browned mince boiled in béchamel)

The real reason for this post though, is the classic Russian dish Beef Stroganov (Бефстроганов) which of course also has evolved slightly over time, originating as cubes of beef in a mustard, broth and sour cream sauce and nowadays typically prepared with onions, tomato paste and often mushroom.

Sweden prefers its food cheap and until about 1990 as simple and prefab as possible, which is probably why the often abominable Korv Stroganoff (Sausage Stroganov) was allowed to rear its ugly head. After a bit of brooding I started googling and found that similar tampering has been going on around the world, which isn’t really an excuse or relief. If properly made, with as little as possible changed from the original recipe, except falukorv instead of fillet of beef, it’s a dish with some standard. This is rarely the case however, since most Swedes encounter the dish in its school meal form – strips of unseared sausage swimming in a thin tomato sauce – and then they think that’s how it’s supposed to be! It’s time to reinvent the Korv Stroganoff!

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