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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:52 am on March 22, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bacon, Charcuterie, , , food stores, Garde manger, , little Surgeon General, , , Salo, , , Ukrainian cuisine, unhealthy treif food   

    Ukraininian Sushi 

    Spyware and construction contractors are very bad for my health. For instance, recently, the contractor who renovated my apartment asked for my help with cleaning out yet another spyware infestation. To express his gratitude he gave me a present that his sister brought with her from her trip to Ukraine. A piece of genuine Ukrainian salo.

    Salo is an Eastern European staple that for some strange reason is virtually unknown in the West. Wikipedia describes it as salted slabs of pork underskin fat. It’s not really bacon – salo mostly consist of unrendered fat (bacon has more meat) and can be eaten raw.

    If you’ve never had salo, it’s most similar to the taste and texture of little pieces of fat found in some harder kielbasas. In its fried form salo resembles bacon and pork rinds, except it’s much tastier. Also, you really can’t make exceptional borscht or fried sunflower seeds without high quality salo.

    Here’s a piece (Ukr. “shmatok”) of salo on my official Jamie Oliver cutting board. I used my sashimi knife to cut it into thin slices – the best way to eat, in my opinion.

    It’s kind of hard to describe the taste and texture of Ukrainian salo. The texture of it is hard, yet it melts on your tongue. It’s salty, fatty, garlicky. Your caveman instincts make your brain fire “wow, inhale this right now” messages, yet the little Surgeon General in your head tells you “wow, this will clog up your arteries good.” They don’t call salo “Ukrainian cocaine” for nothing.

    The little Surgeon General in your head is wrong, though. Having come into possession of this authentic salo for the first time in years, I just had to kick it up a notch and make the _ultimate_ in unhealthy treif food. I had to make the legendary confection – “salo in chocolate”.

    This confection started as a joke playing on Ukrainians’ fondness of salo. Then some Russian and Ukrainian restaurants started making it as an exotic delicacy. Then someone started to make a candy bar of that name. The Wikipedia article has more on that.

    I tempered some good semi-bitter chocolate and dipped thin slices of salo into it.

    The flavor is outstanding. Chocolate goes well with salty, fatty salo. It tastes as good as it is unhealthy. Overall, though, the quantity that I made is probably no worse than a movie theater popcorn or the bun of death from the vending machine at work. In fact, probably healthier.

    If you are curious, you can find salo in most Russian food stores in New York. It will probably be lower quality Canadian salo, but it will give you a pretty good idea.

    You can find more of my gastronomic adventures here.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:15 pm on July 20, 2002 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chip making equipment, , , , Cray Research, food stores, , Lee Fridlander, , , Supercomputers, , Wisconsin   


    Ok, I’ve made an extravagant purchase. But I wanted it so, so much!

    What was the object of my desire? It was a book of photographs called “Cray at Chippewa Falls”.It was an album by Lee Fridlander that was commissioned by Cray Research. The book was given to employees and was sold in Cray company store to visitors, but there were only about 5000 copies made.

    The photographs are of unspeakable beauty. Friedlander starts with outskirts of Chippewa Falls – the waterfall, forest, fields. Then the photographs depict a typical small town – a railroad track, broken down pickup truck, suburban houses. Then the center of the town: a barber shop, Radio Shack, some fast food stores. Nothing extraordinary (except for Friedlander’s photographic talent). But then the magic begins. The book is full of photographs depicting highly concentrated men and women among chip making equipment, chassis of supercomputers with garlands of wires, computer terminals. Everybody is filled with a sense of purpose and pride – they are making the most advanced thinking machines in the world!

    Seymour Cray, the Superman of Supercomputers

    That’s Cray 1 in the background. Notice a nice little leather covered bench around the chassi. It was meant as a place where technicians could sit and warm themselves after spending a long time in an air conditioning room. In reality, few technicians would sit there for the fear of breaking the multimillion dollar machine.

    Aaaaa! I am swallowed by a supercomputer!

    That’s a lot of wires. But if they put their heads together…

    Even though I paid $250 for this album (and it is worth every penny), the copyright of course does not belong to me. But I am pretty sure that showing you these photos falles under “fair use”.
    From http://www.louisville.edu/~ddking01/mmgdl01.htm :
    “Under these guidelines a photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety but no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of an educational multimedia project”
    So if anybody asks – this is an educational multimedia project.

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