You may not think of a salad as typical New Year’s fare but many Russians around the world do. Russian New Year, Novy God, is celebrated with a tree, Grandfather Frost bringing presents to children with the help of his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden. Traditional food for Novy God celebrations may include dumplings with sour cream, herring, pickles, turnovers, caviar, tortes, and Olivier salad.
Olivier salad dates back to the 1860 when chef Lucien Olivier made the dish for the hermitage restaurant in Moscow. The ingredients included grouse, duck, veal tongue, caviar, crayfish, and lettuce bound together with a special mayonnaise made with Provencal olive oil. Over the years the ingredients have changed considerably and now include diced potatoes, canned peas, pickles, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, and some kind of meat often ham, salami, or chicken, all bound with special mayonnaise (that can be made at home in a blender). Depending on the region and the cook, the ingredients of the salad vary greatly. In Spain it is called Ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad) and is served in tapas bars. It usually has boiled and minced potatoes, carrots and eggs, tuna, roast red pepper strips, and green olives, again bound with mayonnaise. So if a salad is not to your liking for New Years consider trying this dish as a small plate with sherry.