About the Book

About the Book

The inside of the back of the book. A dessert spread complete with champagnes and immaculate tableware.

For those that are interested in the particulars of this book, I have provided a translation of the small foreword by Stalin and a preface as well as the publishing details of the book such as its authors and history.

The name of the book in Russian is “Книга о Вкусной и Здоровой пище” which directly translates to “The book of Tasty and Healthy food”. It was written by scientists of the Institute of Nutrition of the Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences. The book was first published in 1939. It was published many times since its inception. Each edition had changes depending on the political climate and the policies of that era.

The book was was the brainchild of Anastas Mikoyan, an Armenian, who was the People’s Commissar of the Food Industry of the USSR in the 30’s. He believed that the USSR needed to radically revolutionise its food culture and industrialise it as was done in the US and other Western countries.

I own the 1955 edition of the book published by the “пишепромиздат”, which was the official state publishing house, in association with the Ministry of Products. The editor of my edition is “I.K. Sivolan” and his associates were “Professor O. P. Molchanova”, “Professor D. I. Lobanov”, “M.A. Skurihin”, “M.O. Lifshitz” and “N. P. Tziplenkov”. The graphic displays are by “Союзпищепромрекламa” which was the Department of Product Advertising. The titles and binding were done by the artist “S. N. Novskovo”. Those who were involved in the approval of the book were “J. K. Martov” and “D. N. Baltermantz”. According to the back cover 1,000,000 copies of that edition were printed. The cost was extremely high at around 15 rubles and thus the book was was often gifted on important occasions.

The preface by Stalin is as follows:

Stalin’s preface

The characteristic nature of our revolution is that it has given the people not only freedom, but also material abundance as well as the opportunity to live a rich and cultured life

The preface of the editors is as follows:

The 1952, 1953 and 1954 editions of “The Book of Healthy and Tasty food” which had a combined 1,500,000 copies were sold very quickly. We have received many letters from readers with requests to reprint the book which is testament to the book’s popularity amongst the people. To satisfy the wishes of the people as much as possible, we are releasing 1 million copies of the book. This book is published taking into account additional information and corrections as put forward by “Foundations of a Rational Diet”, “Children’s Diet” and some others. The main goal of this book is to help homemakers save time and labour and to cook a tasty and healthy meal for their family using various and assorted food products produced by the Ministry of Products. In this book there are things discussed such as the basics of a healthy diet,  information about food products and recipes of different dishes compiled by experienced chefs. The book is enriched and guided by the Institute of Nutrition of the Academy of Medical Sciences. The report “Foundations of a Rational Diet” and the suggested diet for mothers and children was written by Professor O. P. Molchanova. The prefaces to different chapters of the books were written by Professor D. I. Lobanov, the recipes for the sick were written by professor M. S. Marshak and I. D. Ganetzki. The explanations of different food products were written by  N. I. Berezin (Laureate of the Stalin Award), A.G. Konikov (Laureate of the Stalin Award), M.O. Lifshitz and L. V. Metlitz (PhD of Agricultural Science). Those who participated in organising the recipes were: A. A. Ananev, C. R. Groznov, V.P. Efimov, N.S. Kiknadze, F. P. Nikashin, N. M. Pirogue, G. M. Skripkin and N.P. Tziplenkov. As well as the aforementioned, many doctors, scientists, engineers, chefs and homemakers were involved in the making of this book.

There is a translation of the long introduction at this link.

This book was often used as a coffee table book that people would gloss over as it had many pictures of food. It is iconic for its many depictions of food and especially “New Age” food manufacturing methods such as canning and mass production.

There is even an English translation of the book by Boris Ushumirskiy published in 2012.