Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's Word: stroganoff

stroganoff: A culinary term denoting that a food has been prepared with sour cream, onions, mushrooms, and noodles, though I can't be positive that the noodles are mandatory. I've only ever heard it applied to beef stroganoff, but would love to hear if you've eaten anything else that has been "stroganoffed."

The culinary term is believed to named after Sergei Stroganov, a Russian aristocrat, founder of the Stroganov Moscow State University of Arts and Industry in 1825, and governor general of Moscow in 1859 and 1860. (Maybe one of you older language lovers can tell me whether beef stroganoff had a "more patriotic" name during the Red Scare?)

I post this not because I think you'll be interested in beef stroganoff (though it is a nice little bit of trivia), but because of my recent experience with beef stroganoff — specifically generic beef stroganoff made with ground beef and flat pasta. This is the generic, boxed version of the Hamburger Helper beef stroganoff, which is itself a genericized, box version of real beef stroganoff made with strips of yummy steak.

Anyway, I whipped up a batch of doubly generic, boxed beef stroganoff the other day and was struck by how disgusting it looked. It's papier maché with meat. I thought to myself that this might be the most disgusting-looking food on the planet.

A couple days later I discovered my error. The one food that looks even more disgusting than generic beef stroganoff is leftover beef stroganoff. Somehow, the second time around, it not only looked bad but was completely inedible.

Oh yeah. Beef stroganoff is also the punch line to the horrible joke, "What do you call a masturbating bull?"