Once upon a time there was a town called Kolomna. And it had many many apples. In every orchard under an apple tree there was a tea table covered with a fine white cloth. On that table there was a samovar, apples to add into tea for aroma and taste, and, of course, apple pastila.
Russian ladies were cooking pastila right there in the orchard, baking the apples and made foamy puree out of them. This airy puree was called pastila dough. How would you know if the dough is ready? If you put a little of dough on your finger and it stays there keeping its form – then it’s ready. If not, you have to whisk it more.
Not all varieties of apples would be used for this dough. Only special sour apples with thick flesh that is hard to bite. Usually these were our traditional “antonovka” and “zelenka gorskaja”. They grew in every Kolomna garden and orchard, in small houses and in the back of larger households and factories.
These were the apples that Kolomna sold and delivered to the old Moscow. All year round apple caravans were following thewide roads from Kolomna to the capital of Russia.
Apples are not some kind of raspberry, it’s a sacred fruit. That is why since long in the olden Russia special rules and traditions had to be observed on when to pick the apples, and when to eat them. This all goes back to the times of Adam and Eve, when they misbehaved and tasted the apple. Everyone knows, for sure, how this story ended.
The tradition has it in Russia that new apples can only be picked and eaten after the Savior of the Apple Feast Day (‘Apple Spas’), an Eastern Slavic folk holiday, which is observed on August 19, falling on the Feast of the Transfiguration. And before that – no apples! There was a belief that in Paradise children, whose parents do not eat apples before Apple Spas, will be given apples. That’s why many parents, especially those who lost children, thought it was a big sin to eat apples before ‘Apple Spas’.
When ‘Apple Spas’ came, everyone went out to pick apples and take them to churches to be blessed. People shared apples with relatives and friends, baked delicious apple cakes, made jams, laid tables in the garden, drank apple tea. And in the evenings people would go to the fields for a stroll to sing songs, thank mother nature and watch the sun set. This day was believed to turn summer into autumn and transfigure the Earth. No wonder ‘Apple Spas’ was falling on the Feast of the Transfiguration. This day transforms not only the Earth, but human souls as well.
In autumn after harvest Kolomna was abundant in apples. What would you do with all those apples? In old times in our town people learned to make apple pastila. And the whole of Russia would have it with tea, savouring and praising this home-made delicacy.
That’s why in our Kolomna the apple tree was always admired, for feasts it was decorated with ribbons, and songs were written about it. One of the most famous folk songs is “An Apple Tree Green”.
Mily Balakirev, a Russian composer, heard this some at a Russian fair in the middle of 19th century and wrote it down. This is how it starts:
“Under an apple tree green
Apple tree green and wide
There sat a good man
Neither single, nor married,
Neither single, nor married,
With a gusli (harp) by his side”.
Our Kolomna ‘babushkas’ (‘grannies’) still follow all these traditions, tell apple stories to the Museum of Forgotten Taste, take part in museum programmes, sing folk songs,
make apple puree, bake apple pies and treat guests of our town with them. How could it be different? Kolomna is an apple place.
One of our ‘babushkas’ – Natalia Nikolaevna – is inviting you to stay at her private house with a garden. The interior of the house is kept as it used to be. Old photographs on the walls, embroideries, clock with a cuckoo, a heap of pillows on the bed, and a view to an ashberry and an old church of Epiphany in Gonchari. It’s very easy. Natalia Nikolaevna gives you the keys and you become the owner of the house in the very heart of Kolomna, in the centre of Russia.
Every town has its place of power, where its soul lives and its time hides away. Our Kolomna – an old Russian town that grew in the 12th century on the border with Moscow princedom has such a place too. The Pyatnitsky Gates of the Kolomna Kremlin are our “places of power”. They used to be wooden first, and in the 14th century was rebuilt in stone looking exactly like the first stone Moscow Kremlin.
In olden times Pyatnitsky Gates marked the eastern border of Kolomna as well as Moscovskaja Rus’ (that was the name of old Russia with the capital in Moscow in medieval times). It is, of course, difficult to imagine today that Russian borders lay just within a 100 km from Moscow in those times.
What is a border?
It is a meeting place. Pyatnitsky Gates were a place where East met West at the crossing of the main medieval trade routes. The silent witnesses of this civilized crossroads where ancient coins and hidden treasures that are still found in abundance around Pyatnitsky Gates.
What is a border?
Sometimes, when we talk about borders, we talk about wars. Pyatnitsky Gates were the key shield of Moscovskaya Rus’. They were the first to meet the enemies coming from the Wild Field. The number of attacks is impossible to count. It was like ebbs and flows of history, the waves of which broke at Pyatnitsky Gates shield only to roll back and hit again. Nikolay Karamzin, a famous Russian historian, noted, that “Kolomna is mentioned in history usually in two cases: either it is being burnt by Tatars or the Russian warriors gather in Kolomna to set off for a fight with Tatars”. It was through Pyatnitsky Gates of Kolomna Kremlin that Dmitry Donskoy, the Prince of Moscow from 1359, went to the Kulikov Field, which turned this place into a mystical symbol of all Russian victories. Even today Pyatnitsky Gates look like a medieval fortress with its warning bell to ring out danger, the icon of the Donskaya Godmother, the heavenly patroness of the town, narrow shooting windows, double herses or portcullis, and a secret vaulted path under the thick walls.
The Pyatnitsky Gates. Drawing by Matvei Kazakov, 1778.
From the 16th century Russian borders begin to move away from Kolomna expanding to the South and East. The defending role of the town faded away. Kolomna became the largest trade junction in the very heart of Russia. The Pyatnitsky Gates at the crossing of water and land routes still remain central to the town life. All through the year lively trading takes place nearby. All kinds of local and foreign goods are on sale here – fish, caviar, wheat, flour, leather, meat, salt, wax, honey, Kolomna pots, textiles, bread, and apples…
In the middle of the 19th century a railway was built that went through Kolomna. This railroad turned out to be worse than the Tatar oppression for Kolomna. The town trade, prospering through the existence of many connecting roads, started to die away, and the Kremlin walls and towers were taken down brick by brick by local people to be later used in their homes for building cellars and barns for pickled cabbage, marinated apples, and lots of other things. Pyatnitsky Gates stood through all this everyday destruction. Perhaps people realised that the Pyatnitsky Gates is not just a tower, it is the soul of the town. If someone had destroyed it, Kolomna’s soul disappear.
Today Pyatnitsky Gates begin to unroll the manuscript of time. The town’s Place of Power is being filled up with life again. Around it buildings are reconstructed, festivals are in full swing, performances take place, and museums are born, turning the town’s past into its present.
In 2013 we opened right by the Pyatnitsky Gates the Museum of Bread (“Kalachnaya”) that revived the old tradition of Kolomna bread-baking. Town guests eat hot Kolomna bread – ‘kalach’ – and listen to the breadman stories, children are learning to make their own little ‘kalach’ out of dough, and locals are queuing to buy hot ‘kalach’ straight from the oven for breakfast, others are having a snack with ‘kalach’ in the museum café. Some eat it with butter, others with caviar or museum jam. It feels so good! And in the evenings in our Museum of Bread that looks like the historic British “Globe” one can be part of a literature event or watch a Museum Theatre performance. The most popular show is opera-ballet “Kalaccio”.
In May 2014 another museum will open its doors by the Pyatnitsky Gate – Museum of Kolomna Coins. This Museum tells us everything about the great trade routes of the Middle Ages, mysteries of spell-binding treasures, and the beginning of Russian coins.
Very soon, on the other side of the Gates, we will see a Museum celebrating the Manufacture of Kolomna merchant Suranov opening. This will sell soap made to the 19th century recipes. Have you ever tried a soap with sand and coal? We welcome you to come and try!
Pyatnitsky Gates is the main entrance-exit of the town, acting as a beacon for Kolomna’s destiny, both as a mascot and a guard. And it offers horseshoe for happiness. Look at the Pyatnitsky Gates arch – it really looks like a horseshoe, which has always been the symbol of luck, prosperity, and happiness in Russia. And over the Gates we see an eternal prayer, “God Save this Town and its People, and Bless Everyone Who Walks though these Gates”.
The Wild Field is a historic name of the vast steppe territories between Don and Oka rivers on the one side, and Desna and Dnepr on the other, that separated Moskovskay Rus’ from Crimea Khan state.
Over the centuries, Kolomna has been famous throughout Russia for its delicacy – apple pastila. During the revolutions and wars of the last century, the recipe for Kolomna pastila was lost.
In 2009 the Museum of Forgotten Taste opened, recreated the taste of Kolomna pastila and returned the ‘sweet symbol’ to the town. In the Museum you will have the chance to hear intriguing stories and enjoy the long-forgotten taste of the extraordinary Kolomna pastila.
Museum Pastila Factory
In 2011 a pastila-making factory was founded in a building, which in the old times used to belong to a local merchant, Pyotr Chuprikov, and had been a pastila-making factory, too. It became the first museum in Russia, where one can observe and try their hand at pastila-making, as well as meet ‘real’ characters of the past – the guides of the museum dress up as the factory owner, his wife, a pastila maker, etc. Like it was in the times of the merchant, there is now an apple-tree garden in the back of the factory, with special varieties of apples used for making pastila.
Traditionally in Russia one would greet honourable guests with bread and salt. Not in Kolomna though, where an expensive silk-covered box of pastila was presented to the guest.
So what is Kolomna apple pastila? In fact, it is a natural conserve from the middle ages, which was used to preserve the abundant apple harvest without any flour, fats, starch and other ‘benefits’ of modern life.
Pastila was loved by the whole of Russia – that is why people called it simply ‘Russian pastila’.
Kolomna is an old Russian town located 100 km from Moscow. It has kept its truly authentic Russian features to the present day: the Kremlin, beautiful cathedrals, merchants’ mansions, solemn patriarchal quietness on its streets, and the traditions which go back many centuries. One of these traditions is Russian tea-drinking – ‘chaepitie’.
The merchants’ wives paid regular visits to each other. These visits began with a head-nodding, like the nodding of clay cats when they areshaken, and the pressing of lip to lip. Then they settled themselves decorously like silent guests on our theatre stages for the subsequent serving of not less than twenty plates of jam, nuts of all varieties and confectionery. At the same time they were certain to observe the Chinese ritual of endless refusals and pressing hospitality, accompanied by bowing and invitations to partake. The chatter of a doll’s tea-party was only interrupted by the cracking of nuts and it was ended with the same Chinese ceremonial requests to come again soon, and not to think too harshly of the host’s meagre offerings.
Ivan Lajechnikov, “Russian Walter Scott”
Traditionally, people used to drink tea in Russia at 4 o’clock. In the old days all business and trade in Russian towns would have to stop, because of a tea-break. People would flock to tea houses and inns, and a samovar would be boiling in every home.
Samovar is a unique Russian device for boiling water and making tea. The water inside a samovar is heated by an internal burner, which consists of a long tube filled with charcoals. Because of its shape samovar can make various noises depending on stage of boiling: at first a samovar ‘sings’, then it ‘roars’ and then, finally, ‘bubbles’.
The Russian tea drinking ceremony used to begin with a special formal procedure of seating the guests around the table. One was not expected to accept the offered foods straight away, but only after numberless denials and persistent offerings by the hosts.
Drinking tea from tea cups and saucers that didn’t match was considered a bad tone. But tea sets were expensive. That is why there were man’s and woman’s tea cups: men were drinking from tall tea glasses in tea glass holders, and women – from china cups.
If a Russian would be treated to a weak tea, he or she would traditionally say, “One can see Moscow through this!”
The etiquette for table setting for tea-drinking is rooted in ancient mystical ceremonies. For example, a tea spoon signified a ‘bridge’, and therefore had to be placed on a saucer. Otherwise evil spirit could move through the spoon from the table onto a plate.
Russians liked drinking tea from a saucer. This was to do with a habit of having tea really hot – as they used to call it, ‘live hot water’. The saucer was held on straight or bent fingers in one hand, with a little finger pointing sideways. The little finger served as a balancer in this ‘construction’, making the saucer more stable.
The most popular way of drinking tea was holding a lump of sugar in one’s mouth while drinking unsweetened tea. It originates from the time when sugar was very expensive and had a stone-hard consistency. One would have to hold a piece of sugar between their teeth and suck hot tea through it from a saucer. Flowing over the sugar, the tea was becoming sweet. One piece of sugar would last for up to 20 cups of tea!
Russians used to drink a lot of tea. The merchants of Kolomna would drink so much tea that a special name was invented describing this condition: ‘till your keys stick up’ – when keys attached to one’s belt would poke up from the pressure of the amount of liquid inside! And merchant’s wives would drink ‘till a headscarf’ or event ‘till a second headscarf’ – when a headscarf on their back would become wet.
The last cup was called a ‘belt’ one, as it was preceding the farewell respects – a bow, when one would bend one’s body half-way, ‘to the host’s belt’. Interestingly, no matter how much tea the guest had drunk, the host would usually say, “Letting you go without any tea, but don’t bring shame on us!”
On its first birthday on 9 January, 2010 the Museum of Forgotten Taste “Kolomna Pastila” received an unusual gift – an apple cow – a talisman ensuring there are always plenty of apples available for Kolomna Pastila making. This art work was created by “Creative Dacha” contemporary artist collective from Izhevsk guided by Anfim Khanikov, their artistic director.
Apples on the snow. Minus 30 degrees. Kolomna, Museum Courtyard. Apple Cow under an Apple Tree
The apple cow marked the beginning of a long-lasting friendship between the Museum of Forgotten Taste, “Creative Dacha”, and contemporary art. An art, which has become a special language for the Museum, illuminating Russian heritage to the people in the town and around the world.
“Creative Dacha” in Kolomna
“Ice House” Festival
Museum of Forgotten Taste initiated an annual winter festival “Ice House” in Kolomna. The festival bears the name of a 19th century historic novel written by the Kolomna-born Ivan Lazhchnikov, often referred to as the ‘Russian Walter Scott’.
Key to the novel is the Ice House built at the whim of the Russian Empress Anna Ionnovna to celebrate a fun wedding of her court jokers. Contemporaries often called him the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The house and everything inside it was made of transparent ice: ice walls, ice sculptures, ice windows, ice dishes, ice flowers, ice candles, ice playing cards… And in front of the house there were ice trees with ice leaves, ice cannons, and an ice elephant that was spouting water jets during the day, and fire torchers covered in oil at night. This elephant could, to everybody’s surprise, make trumpet-like noises. They were produced by a person hidden inside the elephant and playing the trumpet.
“Creative Dacha” artists recreated the ice elephant at the Art Field during the 2011 Ice Festival in Kolomna. This art work became a key attraction for the festival visitors.
Kolomna. “Ice House” Festival. Ice Elephant Playing the Trumpet
Press about the Elephant
The fourth annual town festival “Ice House” took place in Kolomna on 8 January, 2011. This celebration is becoming more and more popular with the local people each year, who already see it as a traditional town event.
The sound of the trumpet was coming out from the elephant’s mouth or, to put it mildly, on the other side of the elephant. However, how will a person sitting inside the elephant get out of it at the end of the day, remained an intriguing mystery throughout the festival
Oleny Vrazhek. Creative Industries Summer School in Kolomna.
In June 2011 at the picturesque meadow with a historic name “Oleny Vrazhek” that has spread itself right at the entrance to Kolomna we held the first Creative Industries Summer School. The Museum of Forgotten Taste ‘Kolomna Pastila’ initiated, organized, sponsored, and ran the School. Students came from all over Moscow region.
Creative Industries Summer School “Oleny Vrazhek”
The participants of the School were faced with a non-trivial challenge. They had to learn how to make urban landscapes more beautiful and attractive by means of contemporary art. The creative outcome was above all expectations. The projects conceived during the Summer School demonstrated not only originality of thought, but were also eco-friendly, took into consideration the natural landscape, and were very human and kind. Over 40 art objects were created. Creators of the best works were awarded a trip to the UK.
VIDA Museum. The installation project framed the wonderful views of Oleny Vrashek with the ancient monasteries at the background. Everyone who saw the project, exclaimed, “How beautiful!”, and took photographs to support the view in their memories.
Perspective.The project offered design of furniture for public parks, that allowed us to discover new perspectives in the landscape. No wonder, if we are sitting on a 3 meter high chair, we will definitely see everything in the new light.
The Creation of the World. Ludmila Roldugina, the director of the Museum Theatre, created an ancient performance. The picturesque ravine became the amphitheatre for this performance, the natural landscape was the stage, and the freshly cut meadow served as an orchestra pit. The performance included Old Testament symbols, ethnic music, and music by George Handel. The work was atmospheric and philosophic. Symbolically, the climax of the performance was marked with a rainbow appearing in the sky over the natural setting stage.
Tree House Library. One could escape the chaos of the world cuddling in this cosy nest of a library to read a selection of books to the sounds of leaves rustling and birds singing.
Massage. An interactive project. Everyone who could cope with swimming across the river Kolomenka to the other shore was awarded with a full relaxing massage. Despite the need to cross the river, the number of those wishing to relax was very high.
Art Ship “Isolde”
Central to the Creative Industries Summer School soon became the art ship “Isolde” made by “Creative Dacha” artists out of an old rusty bus.
This art ship was used as the venue for concerts, radio booth, music centre, creative kitchen. It soon became a permanent participant of all current and future festivals in Kolomna.
Art Ship “Isolde” Under Sail
Maslenitsa at Posad
Maslenitsa is a traditional Slavic feast, the roots of which go into the pagan tribal traditions of saying farewell to the winter. What does contemporary art have to do with it? The Museum of Forgotten Taste has the answer.
In 2011 in the very heart of historic Kolomna we installed a public art object “Kolomna Pancake” that was made of… pancakes and favourite hay art objects from the Museum collection.
Hay Maslenitsa in the Museum of Forgotten Taste “Kolomna Pastila” courtyard
Hay Monster at the Historic Square in Kolomna in front of Museum Pastila Factory
Hay Sculptors “Creative Dacha”
In the Museum Courtyard we held a joyfull contest of tricks and jokes for children. The winner was pronounced the Mastlenitsa King of Tricks and Jokes.
Mastlenitsa King of Tricks and Jokes Elections
Happy Maslenitsa Procession to the Museum Pastila Factory led by the King of Tricks
All the King’s Men
Maslenitsa Procession Accompanied by Tricks, Sounds, and Music
At the Museum Pastila Factory the guests were welcomed by art pancakes. Children were making their own creative pancakes by using their imagination and various food ingredients. Imagination turned out to be extremely tasty!
Art Pancakes at Museum Pastila Factory
Pancakes Installation on Russian Pechka (oven). Russian pechka seems to be a perfect media screen!
Apple Book Festival
Pastila is also closely connected with contemporary art during Antonov Apple Festival in Kolomna.
Apple Book Festival 2011 Making an Apple Fountain
Pilnyak Glasses This installation is the symbol of the Apple Book Festival 2013 that was devoted to the world famour writer Boris Pilnyak. The house of Pilnayk in Kolomna still exists. It is right across the road from the Museum of Forgotten Taste. Pilnyak used to live there happily with his family. Wherever life would bring him after that, he would always put his Kolomna address at the end of his literary works – “Kolomna, Nikola on the Posad”. The full title of our Museum of Fogotten Taste also has this line. “At Nicola’s on the Posad”.
“Apple Mood”, Nikita Markov, Moscow. Apple Book Festival, 2013
Apple Mood Festival
In the two years since the opening of Museum of Forgotten Taste “Kolomna Pastila” the concentration of contemporary art in Kolomna became so high that it started living a life of its own. In the centre of Kolomna in a former communal flat we founded Artkommunalka that became the headquarters of contemporary arts.
Kolomna. Artkommunalka. Entrance from the Courtyard
Under one roof in Artkommunalka we have an art residency for contemporary artists and writers, an exhibition hall, a museum of the Soviet times lifestyle, and the memory of Venidikt Erofeev. Being a world known writer Venidikt Erofeev worked as a loader in the local shop on the ground floor of the building, where we find Artkommunalka today.
Erofeev creativity can best be described as a Russian statement of the right of each person to be Different. It is not by chance, that the full name of the Museum Residency is “Artkommunalka. Erofeev and Others”. “Others” with a capital “O”.
Symbolically, Artkommunalka opened on 1 December, 2011. On this day almost half a century ago Nikita Khrushev visited an Avant-garde exhibition in Moscow Manage, where he criticized contemporary art harshly just for the fact that it had the courage to be different.
All through the years different contemporary artists and writers live in Artkommunalka, create, meet other people, and exhibit their works.
As before in the Soviet times the most popular place in Artkommunalka is its kitchen with its traditional ‘avoskas’, milk bottles, sausages with green beans, and “tea with elephant” that was usually in deficit during Soviet times.
“Sosiski” (sausages) are a very tasty and saturating snack. Their main role, however, was to save time for urban women and women in the social fields, so that they could devote more of it to their work, cultural activities and being with children.
Book about Tasty and Healthy Food. Approved by the Institute of Food of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences. Moscow, USSR, 1954
Through a wardrode filled with old dresses you can get from the artkommunal kitchen to the exhibition hall with contemporary art. This is how the connections between the past and the present, and between tradition and innovation, that started from the Apple Cow in the Museum Courtyard, were brought to life.
“I do not know you, people. I know you vaguely, and I have paid little attention to you, but I care about you…” by Venedict Erofeev, “Moscow-Petushki”
Installation “Venidikt Erofeev Angels” created by Anfim Khanikov from Izhevsk was inspired by the angels from Erofeev’s well-known narrative poem written in 1969-1970 and published underground.
Over 400 bottles were used to make the art work. Anfim collected them form the restaurants, cafes, in the forests. “Thank you for the empty bottles”, Anfim was saying to Kolomna people after he finished his project. “Let these angels save you from heavy drinking addiction”.
Mikhail Lezhin aka Misha Le Zhen
The artistic director of Artkommunalka is actionist artist Mikhail Lezhin, better known aka Misha Le Zhen. From 1990 Mikhail Lezhen carried out over thirty art actions in Russia, Italy, and Germany. His works are part of Pompidou Arts Centre collection in Paris and other museums and galleries. In 2009 his monograph “Misha Le Zhen: a.c.t.i.o.n.s.” was published in Italy.
The material I am using for my art is a movement, an action, although my background is in painting. A painter is usually not limited by any constitutions or conduits. It is not stated anywhere, that in the morning after you had your coffee, you have to pick up a brush and start painting. Some artists invent this for themselves, while Raphael and Van Goth were doing that.
However, the internal logic of the painting lays out its own path. There is a principle: the less expressive means are used by the artists, the more impressive is the art work. Sooner or later the painter comes to draw a black square or white on white. Then the artist moves on to create a collage, still holding a brush in his/her hand, just as Rembrandt or Picasso. That is already moving away from the flat image on the canvas into the space around it. The next steps are then assemblages and installations, and then actions. The logic of this path brought me to actionism already in 1990.
I felt that my inner explosion was bigger that contemporary painting allowed me to express.
You know, there is no holding me off in this life. Remember, how as a child you always wanted to jump on the bed, run around, scream and shout? When you are a grown up, it becomes much more difficult to balance off this inner state. But I am trying. I am trying to find this balance, and pass the feeling of it to the audience.
From Misha Le Zhen interview with Antonina Strauss,
Kolomna Information Internet Portal correspondent. 29 March, 2011
Artkommunalka opened its doors to the public with a new project “Skates” by Misha Le Zhen. Core to the project is an ice-diving action that took place on 22 March, 2011 in Kolomna. For the project the artist made an ice hole in Kolomenka river, put an old gramophone on the side of it, and then Misha Le Zhen went under water wearing a special hydro costume to skate dance on the other side of the ice. To capture this ice ballet, our cameraman dived in as well. The film that was produced from the footage became the artistic outcome of this unusual project.
Every year we run an International Grant Award in contemporary visual art and literature. In 2013 we received 72 applications that came from 22 different cities across Russia and 9 other countries. Our next International Grant Award will run from 1 October to 31 October 2014.
Creative union of Kolomna Pastila and contemporary art is as multi-faceted as our heritage. One of these facets is the Museum Theatre that moved away from traditional productions towards experimental cross-artform theatre with elements of ballet, opera, physical theatre, live music, culinary, authentic museum objects, and storytelling. Our Museum Theatre is a true synthesis of different art forms.
Mysteries of Kolomna Posad or the Story of Forgotten Things
This captivating thriller tells visitors about a secret treasure that was found in an old cabinet bequeathed to the Kolomna Posad locals. The treasure included love letters with secret feelings, rings with precious stones, silver spoons, and some kind of a white power, that was thrown away. Most likely it was cocaine that used to be so popular at the beginning of the 20th century…
At the end of the show the audience have a closer look and touch the original museum objects from the treasure box
Screenwriter – Igor Sorokin
Director – Lyudmila Roldugina
Scenography by Igor Roldugin
One of the most beloved performances of our museum visitors is “Take a Deeper Breath” based on short stories by Chekhov. This show takes place from May till end of September and is accompanied by live music, fresh air, and good mood.
Directed by Ludmila Roldugina
Scenography by Igor Roldugin
Before the Performance
During the Performance
After the Performance
“Ballet Tea with Pushkin” is a Museum Theatre performance about Kolomna Tea Ceremony, where everything has a meaning, while it is full of traditional beliefs, customs, habits, superstitions, routines, and folk sayings. Why Pushkin? That’s easy. Pushkin contemporaries were saying, he was not really a gourmet, but “there was no holding him from certain treats”. One of such treats was apple pastila.
“Ballet tea with Pushkin” is a Kolomna Tea ceremony with elements of neoclassic ballet by George Balanchin and, of course, tasting of the famous Kolomna Pastila that was so loved by the Russian geniuses such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky.
Wherever this play takes place – in a Museum orchard, near Kolomna Kremlin, in an Apple Book Festival tent, Pushkin House in London or in the middle of Drove Apple Orchards in Norfolk, it is always a great success.
Maybe the reason for that is the tea with bluebell flowers, which according to Kolomna tradions, were a source of good mood.
Ballet Tea with Pushkin
Directed by Lyudmila Roldugina
Scenography by Igor Roldugin
Ballet Dancer – Vyacheslav Pegarev (aka Pushkin)
“Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of oranges and lemons,
and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and
beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.”
Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”
Morning Post. Tuesday, 4 January, 1820
Norfolk Biffins, or Beefings, are apples grown over some three hundred years in the English county of Norfolk. Norfolk Biffin is a very long-keeping, tough-skinned apple with firm flesh. Very tough skin of Biffin apples allows them to be baked whole, and then preserved cold.
Cottagers used to pick the apples and wrap them in straw for a while in a warm oven, after which they would be squashed down and baked again. The final apples were packed in boxes and sent to London where they were a real delicacy, known as a “Biffin”. Its baked flesh described as thick and tasting of cinnamon and raisins. Norfolk Biffin apples have been one of the most celebrated of the county’s apples, famously used to make “biffins”.
Robert Walpole, an early Norfolk Biffin admirer
The estate records for Mannington, Norfolk, dating from 1698, of Robert Walpole, later the first Prime Minister of Great Britain mention Norfolk Biffin apples which Walpole had sent up to his house in London.
The Norfolk Biffin is also mentioned by Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol”, 1843, later in “Dombey and Son”, 1846-1848 and in “Boots at the Holly-tree Inn”, 1858. The last of these has: “Cobbs, do you think you could bring a biffin, please?… I think a Norfolk biffin would rouse her, Cobbs. She is very fond of them.”
The Victorian food writer and poet Eliza Acton recommends the Norfolk Biffin apple in her Modern cookery, in all its branches (1845) as the best apple to use when baking “Black Caps par Excellence” (a sugared baked apple made with wine and lemon peel).
DRIED NORFOLK BIFFINS
Norfolk Biffin is a hard and very red apple, the flesh of the true kind being partially red as well as the skin. It is most excellent when carefully dried; and much finer we should say when left more juicy and but partly flattened, than it is when prepared for Bale. Wipe the apples, arrange them an inch or two apart, and place them in a very gentle oven until they become so much softened as to yield easily to sufficient pressure to give them the form of small cakes of less than an inch thick. They must be set several times into the oven to produce this effect, as they must be gradually flattened, and must not be allowed to burst: a cool brick oven is best suited to them.
Original Recipe from “Modern Cookery for Private Families” by Eliza Acton, 1845
Biffins were popular with Norwich bakers, who cooked apples in their bread-ovens, weighed down with an iron plate and then sent to London fruiterers as a delicacy. In Victorian London, there was a Christmas trade in biffins, supplied by Norwich bakers.
These apples are now only rarely seen in English orchards. However, Norfolk Biffins are still grown in Drove Orchards. They are in blossom in April and ready to pick in October-November. Make sure you visit Drove Orchards to enjoy the beauty of the blossom, PYO and taste these famous heritage apples!
The Bramley, one of Britain’s most prosperous and time-honoured apples, is the most popular cooking apple in the UK today. “The Bramley Seedling”, more commonly known as the Bramley Apple is an irregular, large, flat-round cooking apple, usually green in appearance with stripes of red. Bramley’s Seedling apple trees are large, vigorous, spreading and long-lived.
Astonishingly, the original 205-year-old mother Bramley apple tree continues to grow and fruit in Southwell, near Nottingham. As one of the most extraordinary trees in existence, it now attracts visitors from around the world.
Original Bramley Apple Tree in Southwell Notts
The first tree was raised by Marry Anne Brailsford who, as a child, sowed a few apple pips in a pot in about 1809. One of these pips grew into a vigorous sapling which was planted in the family garden. Since then every single Bramley apple ever eaten and tree planted has originated from it.
In 1846, a local butcher, Matthew Bramley, bought the cottage and garden. By then in 1856, a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apples. Bramley agreed but insisted that the apples should bear his name – “Bramley Seeding” (often shortened to Bramley).
The tree that bore the first ever Bramley apple is alive and well and still bearing fruit in the garden of my home here in Southwell. It was grown from a seed set by a girl called Mary Ann Brailsford 200 years ago, some time between 1809 and 1815, first bearing fruit in 1837. By this time, Mary Ann had moved away and a Mr Bramley owned the tree.
Some years later a gardener named Mr Musson gathered some of the apples and by chance gave one to Henry Merryweather, the son of a local nurseryman. Henry recognized it as a very good apple and approached Mr Bramley, taking cuttings on the proviso that if the tree was ever commercialized it should bear the name of Bramley. Of course, it should really have been called Brailsford.
Tuesday, 20 October, 2009
an excerpt from the BBC interview with the current owner and custodianof the original Bramley tree, Nottinghamshire pensioner Nancy Harrison
First-class Certificate by the Royal Horticultural Society, 1883
On 31 October 1862, the first recorded sale of a Bramley was noted in Merryweather’s accounts. He wrote “three Bramley apples sold to Mr. Geo Cooper of Upton Hal”’. On 6 December 1876, the “Bramley Seedling” was highly commended at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Fruit Committee exhibition and became a new registered variety. It received a First Class Certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1883.
By 1900 a number of orchards were planted across England, and also in Ireland. In 1900, the original tree was knocked over during violent storms; it survived, however, and is still bearing fruit two centuries after it was planted. During the early 1900s the Bramley trees were extensively planted, with the fruit a useful source of food during the First World War.
Bramley apple trees helped establish the modern British fruit industry, and are a mainstay of today’s market orchard. Those few pips planted by a little girl in her garden in Nottinghamshire 200 years ago are responsible for what is today a £50 million industry, with commercial growers across Kent, East Anglia and the West Midlands. Every single Bramley apple that has been eaten and every single Bramley tree that has been planted, comes from the Southwell tree.
In June 2002 in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Tree Council designated fifty trees as heritage trees. In recognition of its place in the national heritage, the original Bramley Seedling tree was given the honour of being one of those fifty trees. We are proud to say, that the first produce of Kolomna Pastila and Apple Orchards company was hand made from this heritage variety of British Apples. “Bramley Pastila” is recognized as an official souvenir of 2014 UK-Russia Year of Culture.
Heritage “Bramley Seedling” apple trees are planted in Drove Orchards. They have been grafted as cuttings from the original mother tree in Nottinghamshire. They are in blossom in April and they are ready to pick in October-November.
Make sure you visit Drove Orchards to enjoy the beauty of the blossom, PYO and taste these famous heritage apples!
200 year old tree is core to National Apple Day celebrations
British to the core
 taken from http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/norfolkbiffins.htm
 taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13775135
 taken from http://www.countryfile.com/countryside/my-country-life-original-bramley-apple-tree
Apple Road is an international project that brings together people from around the world in their love for apples, apple tastes and stories. The project is initiated by Kolomna Pastila and Apple Orchards company that is a partnership between Kolomna Museum of Forgotten Taste and Drove Orchards.
We are inspired by Dostoyevsky, who used to say “Humanity will be cured and saved by the orchard”.
Today when commercial apple varieties take over heritage ones. Striving for bigger, sweeter, and rounder apples, we are losing our intangible cultural heritage – the taste of apples that our predecessors used to experience. With our Apple Road project we would like to raise awareness of the rich diversity of heritage apple varieties and the need to preserve them for future generations.
Our main image is Alkonost, a paradise bird, who sings about beauty and happiness. She flies into the apple orchards every year on the Apple Days and magically gives curing power to apples. This is also what we do. We come to apple orchards with our Apple Machine for Apple Days and transform the apples with the magical power of art.
The Apple Road started off in Kolomna in September 2014, then travelled on to Darovoe (Dostoyevsky estate), Yasnaya Polyana (Leo Tolstoy estate), and then to Drove Orchards, Norfolk, Welbeck, and Southwell in Nottinghamshire (hometown of Bramleys), Leila’s Shop and Roe Green Walled Garden in London, and Cambridge.
Wherever we go, we create local apple tastes. In Norfolk we created Drove House Pastila made from different varieties grown at Drove Orchards under the big Norfolk skies.
In the Drove Orchards Farm Shop you may taste and buy a whole range of local apple produce handmade on site in our Apple Machine.
For the Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell this year, we created Pastila “Mary” made from Bramleys. On the box you will find a story of a little girl Mary Ann Brailsford, who planted the seed, which grew into a wonderful Bramley Apple Tree that still grows in Southwell.
End of October 2014 we took part in Cambridge Botanic Garden Apple Day, where we launched another local taste “Cambridge” Pastila. The design for this box was inspired by Vladimir Nabokov, who lived and studied in Cambridge in 1918. You may find the lines from his “Universtity Poem”, where he talks about his experience of living in Cambridge, on the box.
Now we are preparing for Christmas and our “Apple Snow” Pastila Cake made from Norfolk Beefings is going to be key. Norfolk Biffins are mentioned by Charled Dickens in his “Christmas Carol”, and we are proud to be able to offer people a taste of apple and literature heritage.
Drove Orchards is a place to escape from the everyday turmoil to a distant Norfolk coast. Here at the fine border between land, sea and beautiful skyline you find this piece of Paradise stretching over 40 acres.
As it should be in Paradise, many apple trees grow here. Unlike in Paradise everyone is allowed to pick, taste, and eat the fruit. To avoid any confusion, visitors are met by encouraging signs in big letters – APPLES. PYO (Pick Your Own).
This place is also for lovers of history. How could it be otherwise? Everyone knows that the best stories are born at the borders, where dreams meet reality, visions meet true stories, sky meets earth. The main storyteller – the owner of this fairy tale land – is Andrew Jamieson. His wife Linda also likes stories. She does not tell them, she paints them instead.
Story One. DroveHouse
Old Drove House. From Andrew Jamieson Family Album
First, there was a House. Naturally, it was called Drove House. It belonged to the local vicar for the villages of Thornham and Holme-next-Sea. The house was built in 1710, the same year as the Palace of Versailles.
The Garden in Drove House. Doesn’t it remind you of Versailles?
Even today we see something of Versailles in the picturesque view of Drove House surrounded by its beautiful garden, slightly mystical and unreal very much like Versailles Park. Only the fat Norfolk geese that heavily fly over the tree tops break the enchantment of this places bringing us down to the realities of life. One of these realities has always been the family farming business.
Around 1700-1750 a barn was built within the estate. It was greatly enlarged around 1850, when this part of the marsh was enclosed and then reclaimed from the sea by building sea walls and drained to make summer pasture for cattle and sheep.
Picturesque Ruined Barn
Around the same time in the middle of the 19th century Drove House was bought by Major G (Joey) Legh, a great golfer in his day, one of the founders of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club at Brancaster. It was his initiative in 1880 to enlarge the house substantially. Even today one can see the interconnecting new and the old parts of the house.
In 1910 Archie Jamieson starts renting Drove House. After the World War I Archie Jamieson became the owner of the house and brought his whole family over. Here in Drove House David Jamieson was born, the father of Andrew Jamieson, current owner of Drove Orchards. A keen bird watcher and naturalist, David fell in love with the North Norfolk coast, the feeling he kept through all his life. “All of my happy memories of school holidays are here,” he once said.
Story Two. The War.
During World War II Archie Jamieson became Chairman of Vickers-Armstrong, the manufacturer of the Spitfire and a major UK armaments manufacturer.
His son David Jamieson, having learnt about the inevitability of war from his father, relinquished a place at Cambridge to join the 7th battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in May 1939. Although heavily involved with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940, David (now Captain) Jamieson’s first major test came on 1944, shortly after the Normandy landings. He was in command of a company of the Royal Norfolk Regiment which established a bridgehead over the River Orne at Grimbosq, Normandy.
On 7/8 August 1944 the enemy made seven counter-attacks on the company’s position, but throughout 36 hours of bitter and close fighting Captain Jamieson’s company didn’t give up.
Captain Jamieson directing operations from a tank, 8th of August 1944
The attacks included assaults with Tiger and Panther tanks which shot up the Norfolks’ tanks. There were times when the position appeared hopeless. At one point under heavy close-range fire, 23-years-old Captain Jamieson mounted a British tank to direct the tank crew’s fire. He was wounded in the right eye and left forearm, but refused evacuation. The image of Captain Jamieson directing operations from a tank, exposed to enemy fire, became an iconic image of the Norfolk’s epic stand.
David Jamieson received the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth’s highest award for valor, for his great personal bravery and role in repulsing a German attack during the breakout from the D-Day invasion in August 1944. David Jamieson’s Victoria Cross is displayed now in the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum, Shirehall, Norwich, Norfolk.
Story Three. Drove Orchards
Retiring from the army, David Jamieson pursued a successful business career. However, his main love remained the Norfolk Coast and Drove House.
In 1952 David Jamieson planted his first apple trees and started Drove Orchards. The first varieties he planted were Worcester Pearmain and Cox’s Orange Pippin considered England’s finest apple. These are interesting because they were planted in 1952, before the Cox variety became experimented with to make it easier to grow, redder in colour, longer lasting in store, all of which made the taste change.
The son of David Jamieson – current owner of Drove Orchards Andrew Jamieson has grafted cuttings from these original cox trees to plant a new Cox orchard, which he has named Drove House original Cox’s Orange Pippin.
Drove Orchards at Norfolk Diet Farmers Market
Today Drove Orchards is the home of over 150 varieties of English Apples, including over 100 originating from East Anglia. Representing one of the last commercial orchards in Norfolk, the owner of Drove Orchards Andrew Jamieson is proud to be thriving on the basis of the diversity and history of English fruit and in the immense success of a variety of heritage Norfolk Apple Juices, grown, made and bottled at Drove Orchards.
Story Four. Drove Apples with Russian Taste
In 2013 Drove Orchards owner Andrew Jamieson met the founders of the Museum of Forgotten Taste “Kolomna Pastila” in Russia. However, nothing happens without a reason. This meeting grew into friendship and fruitful partnership. The directors of the Russian museum project visited the welcoming and friendly Drove House and the Jamiesons visited Kolomna, in the Moscow region of Russia. In Kolomna they learned everything about the way the traditional Russian delicacy – Kolomna Pastila – is made of local apples at the Museum Factory.
Historic characters ‘live’ – merchant Chuprikov and his wife – by the gates of the Museum Pastila Factory in Kolomna
This is how the idea was born to launch a joint UK-Russian project bringing together tastes, traditions and heritage of two specialist apple locations – Kolomna and Drove Orchards.
On the 7 October 2013 in Pushkin House, London, the first tasting of Kolomna Pastila hand-made frome five Drove Orchard apple varieties, took place.
Puhskin House, London. The presentation of Drove Orchards five apple varieties used
to make Kolomna Pastila. Among guests – Andrew and Linda Jamieson. The best tasting pastila turned out to be the one made of historic British Bramleys.
In the beginning of 2014 in London a new company ‘Kolomna Pastila and Apple Orchards’ was formed. The first produce of the company is Bramley Pastila. The box for the Bramley Pastila is a true history with taste, which is wrapped into a special cover that gives the historic account of how two apples growing locations – Kolomna and Drove Orchards – were moving closer together through the centuries of Russia and British history.
That is how a new page appeared in the history of Drove Orchards with a Russian flavour. Similarly, the mission of this enchanting place “grow it, juice it, love it” is now joined with Fyodor Dostoevsky words that inspire the joint UK-Russia project, “Humanity will be cured and saved by the orchard…”
Think of some less predictable images of Norfolk as you prepare your own
pen picture of the county – e.g. big skies, round-towered churches,
fluffy dumplings and flint knapping.
Keith Skipper, 1996. “Larn Yarself Norfolk:
A Comprehensive Guide to the Norfolk Dialect”
If “big skies”, “round-towered churches”, “fluffy dumplings” and “flint knapping” – is too common for Norfolk, what is Norfolk then?
Norfolk is a big plane of England that is stretching itself to the sea. If you ever visited Cambridge and were on Castle Hill, then you would know that it is the highest point from that place to the North Pole. Past it is a flat valley Fenland that is rolling itself out with Norfolk to the Northern Sea.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the sky that lies on the open Norfolk palm seems larger, sunsets and sunrises more beautiful, or as people in Norfolk would say – ‘bootiful’. However, this is already a different story, while…
Norfolk is a legendary Norfolk dialect that stems from the local humour and a special way of thinking.
“The traditional way of finding out if a person comes from Norfolk is to pose a question which was used as a test during the 1914-18 War: a Norfolk nurse, thinking she recognized a wounded soldier as coming from her own home village, whispered in his ear: “Ha’ yer fa’r got a dikcey, bor?” He knew it meant “Has your father got a donkey, boy?” and mumbled through his bandages: “Yis, an’ he want a fule ter roide ‘im, will yew cum?” That means: “Yes, and he wants a fool to ride him, will you come?” Norfolk people, on meeting in faraway places, still tend to use that question and answer as recognition signals.
The inquiry “Are you coming this evening?” Has been known to prompt a measured “Well, that orl depend”. Depends upon what? Household chore? Transport arrangements? The cost of living? Chances are you’ll never know.
“Dunt peggarter orl his squit” is the colourful Norfolk manner of suggesting there is little point in paying regard to all his nonsense.
“Betterannerhebbin” is a memorable response to any inquiry about state of health.
If you are no better than when you embarked on this perilous journey, take heart from the old Norfolk adage, “Dew you keep a’troshin!”
“Larn Yarself Norfolk: A Comprehensive Guide to the Norfolk Dialect”, 1996
by Keith Skipper, Norfolk Dialect researcher
and founder of F.O.N.D. (Friends of Norfolk Dialect)
The existence of the special Norfolk dialect can be accounted for by its special geographic locaion, while…
Norfolk is Noah’s Ark, surrounded by water. “If the rest of Britain sank beneath the waves, and Norfolk was left alone, islanded in the turmoil of the seas,– James Wentworth Day noted one day, – it would, I think, survive without too much trouble…. Norfolk has always stood alone and aloof from the rest of England”. However, your isolation will not be depressing. You will always be surrounded by many true friends and colleagues, while…
Norfolk is about birds. Norfolk is a bird watching capital of Britain. Over 400 types of birds live on the untouched Norfolk lands with its seaside, meadows, swamps and forests. By the way, ‘wood’ in Norfolk dialect rhymes with “rood” (“road”) and also “woof”, while…
Norfolk is a mystical place that retained a reputation for witchcraft.
Satan on the road to Hell
Ruined Norfolk as he fell.
Anon. 12th Century, The Soil and Climate of Norfolk
It is not by chance that the idea for the most famous book by Arthur Conan Doyle “The Houd of the Baskervilles” was born in Norfolk. In fact, the idea was conceived not by Conan Doyle, but by his friend Fletcher Robinson, Daily Express news reporter.
In 1901 they met in Cromer, Norfolk, on a golf course. Robinson related to his friend this old legend about a daunting dog-ghost named Black Shuck, who was said to live among deadly Norfolk swamps.
According to legend one of Black Shucks tracks runs through what is today Mill Lane past the then Royal Links Hotel over the hill into the grounds of Cromer Hall. Doyle was acquainted with Lord Cromer and visited him during his stay in Cromer. The original Cromer Hall had been destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in a Gothic style with heavily mullioned windows and towers, which at that time of Doyle’s visit were covered in ivy.
The description of Cromer Hall almost perfectly matches Doyle’s description of Baskerville Hall in his story. Robinson also had a manservant called Henry Baskerville.
So it was that during the evenings whilst Doyle and Robinson were staying at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer they planned the outline for this new story.
Black Shuck, the legendary spectral hound, is said to haunt many parts of East Anglia and one of his favourite places in Southery. Sometimes known as the “Hateful Thing” he came to our shores as Viking mythology, being the Hound of Odin, the God of War and the Lord of Valhalla.
When you are walking alone in the Fens on dark nights it is easy to believe in Shunk’s existence under that great dark sky with only flat fields and sudden noises for company. The emptiness makes you vulnerable to ancient superstitions.
The beast is still seen on occasions roaming about in the dark, his Cyclops eye glowing red and sometimes yellow. Others say he has two eyes which change from red to yellow in sequence. He has also been seen with his head hovering over his body and his howl usually presages death.
Polly Howat, 2007. “Ghosts & Legends of Lincolnshire & The Fen Country”, p. 84-85.
So, what is Norfolk?
We can just repeat the words of the English painter John Sell Cotman, “Oh! rare and beautiful Norfolk.” Only, of course, “bootiful”…
And aside from exploring Kolomna Pastila at Drove Orchards there is the opportunity to discover the “bootiful” Norfolk through wild camping. Pleaseclick here for more details.
 taken from http://www.literarynorfolk.co.uk/norfolk_quotes.htm
 taken from http://www.norfolkcoast.co.uk/myths/ml_sherlock.htm
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote this over 100 years ago and now we feel that we are bringing his dream to life.
“Humanity will be renewed in the Orchard, and the Orchard will restore it – that is the formula”.
… I do not know, how it will happen, but it will come true. The orchard will endure. Think of my words in a 100 years time and you will remember that I told you about this… in an imaginary orchard among imaginary people I told you this. Humanity will discover its better self through the orchard – that’s the formula.
…Something should happen… but the key thing is that everyone should have a piece of land, and children should not be born on the pavement… The factory is a legal thing and appears near the already cultivated land – that’s reality. But let each factory worker know, that he has an Orchard there somewhere, under the golden sun, his own… and that in that Orchard there sits his wife, a great woman who loves him and is waiting for him. And together with his wife – his children… What the devil, in the Orchard children will be born like god’s own children…
…If you want to hear my whole thought, than I think that children should be born in the countryside and not in the cities… You may live in the cities later, but the majority of people , should be born and grow up close to the land, rooted in the the soil where corn and trees are growing.
…If I visualise the ideal future – I would say we have it here, in Russia. Why so? Because we still have this one principle among people that land is everything for a human being, almost everything we have is from the land. But the main thing is that it is a normal human right. In the land, in the soil there is something sacred. If you want humanity to flourish, to make human beings more than mere animals – give them land and you will fulfill this goal.
Our land and our community are in a very bad state, I agree, however, here is a grain of wisdom towards the development of a great idea for the future. Everything depends on proper order of the land, everywhere, for all humanity. All order in each country – political, civil, or social – is always related to the soil and to the system of land ownership in the country. The way the land ownership has evolved, should be the way for everything else to be structure.
If there is disorder anywhere in Russia, it is in the land ownership and the relationships between owners themselves and their workers and in the way the land is cultivated. Nothing else will be right until can be mended and structured.
… And I want to draw your attention to the fact, that it was exactly at this time that a fight between our brightest minds took place about, whether “we have any national roots that would be worthy of a wise man’s attention?”
No, wait, a Russian man could never think about himself without land. He would not accept freedom without land. Which means that land for him is everything – freedom, life, reputation, family, children, order, and church – in one word – all that he holds precious… So children will be born in the Orchard and will be saved… I just wanted to talk about children, that’s why I disturbed you. Children are the future, and usually we love the future most of all. That’s why we love children most of all.
The revival of old Kolomna and its patriarchic sprit cannot be thought of without a horse that for many centuries has been an integral part of the town streets, trading fairs and private households.
When designing the new living town museum – the Museum of Bread – we decided to revive an old tradition of selling bread from a horse’s cart. We purchased a Percheron – a breed created at the end of 19th century in a French province Perch.
Percheron is considered to be one of the best horse breeds in France. These heavy giants were extremely popular in the 19th century for their amazing soft movements. They were used for post coaches and omnibuses. Every year many horses were sold for export, so in the 19th century a large number of Percherons appeared in Russia.
In the USSR there was a national Percheron stud-farm at Valovaya station near Voronezh. Later in post-soviet Russia Percherons were only bred at Oktyabrsky farm in the Ulianov region. At the beginning of the 21st century the farm near Ulianovsk suffered from financial hardships: it could no longer afford to keep and feed the horses. In order to pay off debts it was decided to bankrupt the farm and sell the horses.
Fortunately, one person – Sergey Kuznetsov – bought 30 horses. So a mighty foal with a great pedigree and French parentage was born. This grey stallion with the melodious name of Syndikat, will be taking ‘kalachi’ from the Museum of Bread for sale around the streets of Kolomna.
At the moment Syndikat is being trained for his important role in Kolomna.
Our Syndikat is of such a kind and cheerful disposition that it is difficult to take a picture of him in stables – he always comes towards you.
This all happened around Easter. Igor Sorokin, a writer, came to Kolomna Pastila museum from Saratov. He stepped off the tram at the Old Town station – at the moment not a very attractive arrival point. He was faced with stalls selling huge size bras, Easter flowers all made in China and a board saying “Accumulators”. That’s when he remembered funny words of his favourite writer Boris Pilnayk about accumulators.
With these thoughts in mind he went towards the town and the Kremlin streets past churches and monasteries taking in deep breaths with the scent of bird cherries and lilac. Going through the Pyatnitsky Gates he noticed the words from a prayer “God Save this Town…”. He was surprised. Those were words from Boris Pilnyak stories again. From the Pyatnitsky Gates it is a short walk to the Museum of Pastila. He entered the museum courtyard, where nightingales were singing, cherries were in blossom – the trees covered with white-pink flowers, and ladies in traditional 19th century crinoline dresses were pouring tea…
These ladies told him many stories about how people used to live here long ago, offered him tasty treats on twenty different plates with Chinese ‘red’ tea, and Kolomna Pastila with subtle flavours of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and happiness. Suddenly, it was all about Pilnyak again. He realised that, Pilnyak used to live in Kolomna! He loved, wrote and was happy in a house still standing and overlooking the museum.
All this gave birth to Igor’s story with a taste of pastila and a lilac fragrance titled OKOLOKOLOMNA. Everyone fell in love with the story. Igor gathered in Pastila Museum children who lived around it, and they drew pictures for his story. Some drew pilots who fly over Kolomna, others drew angels, some painted fish that swim in the river around the ancient Kremlin, and some drew mermaids…
The pictures were so beautiful, that we had to create a museum film-making studio. It was called OKOLOKOLOMNA. And, naturally, the first work created at the studio was an animation film based on the children’s drawings. What do you think was the title of the film? OKOLOKOLOMNA, of course. Everyone loves watching this film when we show it at at various serious conferences and round tables. It’s priceless there.
That’s how step by step Kolomna brings happiness to everyone. OKOLOKOLOMNA spread far beyond Kolomna. Looks like to other countries even. We are finding out now. Ourselves, in person…
Igor Roldugin, film director
“Happiness is a gift for those, who had a chance to see Kolomna before the sunrise. It is like a gigantic fairy tale amazingly beautiful ship, no more and no less… This ship has been at anchor here for over 1000 years already. It’s ready to sail, but the river is too shallow for it…” These are opening words for “Okolokolomna” an animation film created by a diverse team of Kolomna children, 14 year old Nizhny Novgorod painter Polina Strelkova, her father – Evgeny Strelkov, a painter as well, Igor Sorokin, a Saratov writer, and Igor Roldugin, a theatre and film director from Moscow.
The word “OKOLOKOLOMNA” started living a life of its own. Besides being used as the names for the museum film studio and the animation film, it also became the name of the Society of Those Who Love Nature Walks “Okolokolomna” who published a series of “Okolokolomna” magazines. Igor Sorokin saw the main task of the magazine in moving away from academicizing, and “attracting, drawing in, enchanting readers… Giving them a chance to breath in Okolokolomna that, as we know, starting at the Kremlin walls spreads itself all over the world…”
“That’s the end of the story. In the skies we see angels, and in our cellars we have sour cabbage.
In the orchards we have local apples – ‘antonovka’ and ‘zelenka gorskaya’,
and in the garden – elder-berry…
Each one of us needs a sun, a moon, a rainstorm, or a rainbow.
This is how we have been living for a thousand years.
We treat good people with pastila, giving them a feeling of happiness”.
Over the centuries, Kolomna has been famous throughout Russia for its delicacy – apple pastila. During the revolutions and wars of the last century, the recipe for Kolomna pastila was lost. In 2009 Museum of Forgotten Taste opened, recreated the taste of Kolomna pastila and returned the “sweet symbol” to the town.
Historic recipe of Kolomna Pastila. The New Cooking Book of 1046 Rules.
Includes description of home lunches for each day of the month. Moscow, 1865.
In 2011 in a pastila-making factory was founded in a building which in the old times used to belong to a local merchant, Pyotr Chuprikov, and was a pastila-making factory, too. It became the first museum in Russia where one can observe pastila-making process and meet “real” characters of the past – the guides of the museum – dressed up as the factory owner, his wife, a pastila maker, etc. Like it was in the times of the merchant, there is now an apple-tree garden at the back of the factory, with special varieties of apples suitable for making pastila.
Traditionally in Russia one would greet honourable guests with bread and salt. Not in Kolomna though, where an expensive silk-covered box of pastila was presented to the guest.
So what is Kolomna apple pastila? In fact, this is a natural conserve from the middle ages, which was used to preserve the abundant apple harvest without any flour, fats, starch and other “benefits” of modern life. Pastila was loved by the whole of Russia – that is why people called it simply “Russian pastila”.
Herbal tea was also popular in Kolomna. Here are just some of the names of these teas: “For ailments and spring melancholy”, “Rejuvenating”, “For all misfortunes”, “For nerves”, “For tiredness”, “For good sleep”, “For children”, “For child birth”, “Warming with apples”, “For good mood”.
TEA RECIPE “FOR GOOD MOOD”
Raspberry, yellow everlasting flower, acacia.
Along with this tea a bowl with bluebell flowers was served in the old times.
The bluebell flowers were added to the cup of tea.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a great tea drinker and loved sweets. His wife wrote in her memoirs that he particularly loved “red and white stick pastila”. The museum recreated Dostoyevsky’s favourite red pastila, which is prepared from apples and raspberries.
The Museum of Forgotten Taste has found in Leo Tolstoy’s wife’s recipe book a recipe for apple pastila which apparently was always present on the table during family tea-drinking. The museum used this recipe to recreate Tolstoy’s favourite treat.
Alexander Pushkin liked his sweets, too. He particularly loved gooseberry jam and apple pastila. The museum uses apples grown in the gardens of Pushkin’s memorial estate in Mikhailovskoye, to make Pushkin’s favourite pastila using the recipe from his nanny, Arina Rodionovna.
There was also a tradition of winter tea-drinking with alcohol in Kolomna. Usually tea-lovers were adding some Madeira or vodka into their tea. The museum has recreated an old recipe of pastila with hop, which was an antidote to the alcohol.
What brings together pastila and fashion? Taste, of course! Since pastila has become so fashionable, perhaps it is high time for pastila to meet fashion, thought the founders of Museum of Forgotten Taste “Kolomna Pastila”.
The ﬁrst “pastila fashion” event took place during Maslenitsa in Kolomna. The key concept of pastila style is the combination of contemporary fashion design with Russian folk costumes. Central to the collection is the traditional dress of Kolomna, Moscow Region. Marta Vilmont from Ireland, who lived in Russia at the beginning of 19th century, noted, that Russian dresses in Tver are as different from Moscow region dresses, as the clothes of American Indians from European style.
Traditional Moscow region folk costume elements, which one could see at the fashion showcase, included long-sleeved shirts, tilt-cut ‘sarafans’, aprons, douillettes, and various head-dresses – bands, kokoshniks, caps, ‘sorokas’ embroidered with pearls, precious stones, golden and silk threads, – and pearl necklaces in several rows. And, of course, well-known Kolomna traditional blue woollen stockings.
Unknown painter, copy from Torelli’s work, second half of 18th century
This new style was very well received, and it became clear that Kolomna pastila can easily become a fashion trend-setter.
And there is more. Kolomna history includes a similar story. On 14th October, 1775 Russian Empress Catherine the Great visited Kolomna. This became a turning point in Russian fashion. Enchanted by the beauty of Russian costumes that were worn by the Kolomna merchant wives, the Empress started wearing traditional Russian dresses upon her return to St. Petersburg, introducing them as the official dress code for all the Emperor House ladies.
The characteristic feature of the new style was Russian wide sleeves with cuts and a ‘sarafan’, which had French motives. This style received the name “a la Russe”.
From Kolomna, “pastila fashion” went straight to the Venice Carnival, where Natalia Nikitina arrived wearing the Kolomna Pastila Lady costume. This very costume was recreated from the description of the dress in the historic novel “Ice House” (1835) by the famous Russian writer Ivan Lazhechnikov, often referred to as the ‘Russian Walter Scott’.
Natalia Nikitina and Alexander Vasiliev Venice Carnival, 2013
Wearing a traditional Russian shtof sarafan, a douillette, and a kokoshnik Natalia was so different from all Colombines and Pierrots. She was followed by Venice masks everywhere asking for a chance to be photographed with her. “Miracolo Russo!”, exclaimed everyone.
Kolomna Pastila Lady costume enraptured not only the masked folk of the Venice Carnival, but also its honorary guest Alexander Vasiliev, the world renowned fashion history researcher and expert.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Russian peasant collection from 1976 in Italian Vogue
Today Kolomna Pastila is dreaming about a fashion show at Yves Saint Laurent villa in French Deauville, which is also known as the “Russian Dacha” and is surrounded by carefully tended traditional apple orchards. It is interesting to note that the interiors of the house were inspired by Laurent’s favourite book “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust.
Lost time, forgotten taste…
These are all, of course, just dreams, but the founders of the Museum of Forgotten Taste believe, that dreams come true… You just need to really wish for it to happen.