From the times of the USSR to the present, Olivier salad has been incredibly popular. This simple appetizer made from the simplest ingredients has become the main decoration of the New Year's table, although previously only noble people could taste Olivier.
In the 1860s, the French chef and part-time Moscow restaurateur Lucien Olivier first prepared this salad. However, his recipe was completely different from what it is today.
A little history
The original version of Olivier meant boiled hazel grouse meat. It was cut into thin slices and layered with cubes of meat jelly. The meat was complemented by cubes of boiled potatoes and pickled gherkins. The plate with an intricate dish was decorated around the edges with pieces of chopped egg - there was no need to eat this decoration.
One evening, Lucien Olivier personally came out into the restaurant to greet visitors and saw someone mixing together all the ingredients of his dish. The next day, the cook defiantly did the same, seasoning the resulting dish with mayonnaise. The new dish created a sensation among the restaurant guests, and very soon after that the recipe “went to the people.”
How it was in the USSR
A little later, Olivier’s student adapted the salad for Russian cuisine, adding sausage (hazel grouse are extremely rare guests in Russia), carrots and green peas. He also came up with another version of the salad, in which instead of sausage there is chicken (and the name for it is “Stolichny”).
During the Soviet Union, this dish could hardly be called everyday, since its preparation required quite a lot of food and time. Therefore, the salad became festive. And since Easter and Christmas were practically not celebrated then, the main reason for preparing Olivier was the New Year.
Interesting facts about Olivier
▪︎ In many European countries (the USA, for example, among them), Olivier is called “Russian salad” - this is how it is designated in the menu of various establishments;
▪︎ Young chefs make a pilgrimage to Lucien Olivier (the cook is buried at the Vvedensky cemetery in Moscow) to ask his spirit for help in mastering the profession. They bring the famous salad there - it’s part of the ritual;
▪︎ In the domestic economy, there is the term “Olivier index” - this is the cost of food for a New Year’s feast per person. The Olivier Index helps assess material well-being.