It’s hard to describe St Petersburg’s summer and all the desperation it brings with itself. Russia is still a poor country and many people either have time to go away but no money, or money but no possibility to find time. From January onwards meteorologists speculate about early vs. late spring and extremely hot vs. record-breaking cold summer. Usually the optimistic forecasts prevail; unfortunately, they rarely come into life. So the summer of 2012 was a typical, cold and pale St. Petersburg’s summer, heartbreaking for the majority of thermophilic citizens, but nevertheless it was tolerated for the White Nights and all those light it brought after exhausting dark winter. The jump from the winter straight into the summer is another capricious peculiarity of St Petersburg climate (while autumn is endless).
The summer was not typical for me though. Only a year ago my boss denied approving my August vacations, and in general my stories were rather about overtimes than trips around. But here I stayed – in the airport, with an enormous hot pink suitcase, a trolley and high fever on August 26, Sunday. I took a brave decision to swap a working table for a university desk, and my gloomy native St Petersburg for sunny Milan. But of course at that moment I hardly realized I was leaving forever, it felt like an ordinary vacation, where for some reasons I go alone. Only my mom’s tears bespoke something was not quite the same.
The airport was full of happy people going on vacation, adorned with kids and bags (I did not know at that time I would be stuck in the airports for the next three years). Three planes were about to depart to Italy approximately at the same time; the queue for each was enormous. I was the last one to enter mine (maybe unconsciously I tried to postpone the moment); right after me the boarding was finished. At the moment I was fastening my belt the pilot welcomed us on board of a plane heading to Rome. Nobody reacted, I started panicking, I asked my neighbor where were we going, she told that she believed to Milan. The pilot kept on talking about Rome; I caught a flight assistant and almost screamed where were you taking me? He very calmly answered: “To Milan”. “Why pilot mentioned Rome?” “Never mind, he just flies too much”. All over the flight the pilot kept on repeating we are heading to Rome, each time I heard it I jumped on my seat. Funny to remember that the greatest fear at this very moment was not a fear to leave home, but the fear to end up in a “wrong” city. So here, in this plane, my journey begins (quite hilariously, of course) and I remember it in small details. I remember the suit of the woman, who sat next to me, the face of flight assistant and rather horrible pancakes for my meal.
That’s how pancakes, a traditional Russian dish, became for me a symbol of immigration. And as I was moving to Italy, I will add to the recipe I am about to share an Italian twist.
Russian Pancakes with Parmesan
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 150 gr hard cheese
- 2 egg
- 50 ml olive oil
- 250 ml water
- 1 pinch baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 string dill
- 10 min
- 20 min
- Ready in:
- 30 min
- Whisk the eggs with salt and sugar
- Pour milk and water into the eggs. While whisking, gradually add flour, baking powder and baking soda
- Grate cheese and finely cut dill. Add to the dough, mix well
- Add oil and mix well. The dough shouldn't be very dense, adjust the density with water if necessary.
- Pour a splash of the dough on the frying pan, rotate the pan fast to spread the dough evenly. After three minutes flip the pancake, and fry for another three minute on another side
Tip: a traditional Russian pancake is quite big. However, do not use the largest frying pan you have, otherwise it will be impossible to flip a thin pancake without tearing it apart.