I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Insalata Russa

August 31, 2019 11:00 am

One of the most famous salads in Italy is the insalata russa (Russian salad), known in Russian-speaking countries as Olivier salad (салат Оливье, salat Olivye).

There are different theories about its origins: the only thing they all have in common is that Russia is someway involved.

Some experts say that the salad was prepared for the first time in a prestigious Muscovite restaurant by a French chef. Others think that it’s called “Russian” because it was firstly made by Lucien Olivier during the French invasion of Russia. There is also an Italian origins’ hypothesis: the salad was probably created in France by the Italian personal cooks of Catarina de’ Medici, which moved there in the 16th century.

Linguistically, this famous salad takes different names, depending on the most valued theory about its origin and the version of the dish eaten in each country, so we have ruska salata (руска салата) in Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia, insalata russa in Italy, salat Olivye (салат Оливье) in Russia and other post-Soviet countries, sallatë ruse in Albania, francuska salata in Croatia, salada russa in Portugal, white salad in Lithuania and the interesting American salad (Amerikan salatası) in Turkey, probably coined during the Cold War period.

In Italy, especially in the south, the insalata russa is made during the Christmas period and it’s considered a rich side dish.

The main ingredients of the modern “Russian salad” are: boiled potatoes, dill pickles, peas, eggs, carrots and boiled beef/chicken, all dressed with mayonnaise. It’s very easy to prepare and it has to be eaten cold.

As they say in Russia: Приятного аппетита! (Prijátnogo appetita!, Buon appetito!)


Wikipedia: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insalata_russa – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_salad

Treccani: http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/russo/

Storia dell’insalata russa, Russia in translation, 26 January 2017: http://russiaintranslation.com/2017/01/26/storia-insalata-russa/

Term Olivier salad (салат Оливье, salat Olivye): Бобринский Д.И. Салат оливье // Поварская книга известного кулинара Д.И. Бобринского, 1913 – https://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01003800663#?page=15

Written by Serena Mottola, Study Visitor in Terminology at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and PhD candidate in European Languages and Specialised Terminology at the University “Parthenope” of Naples. She speaks Italian, English, Spanish, Russian and Italian Sign Language.

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