To explain how he embarked on Travels in Siberia
, and how he stuck with it over sixteen years and multiple trips to Russia, Frazier invokes an infectious condition he calls "Russia-love." When he steps off the plane in Moscow for the first time he sees a sign labeled "Exit" with an arrow pointing to the left. He goes left, and meets with a soldier pointing him back the way he came:
"I was thoroughly stunned. Love, with an assist from novelty, had blindsided me. I had been overcome, lost permanently. This kind of thing happens to people in middle age, I realize. It's embarrassing. The feeling began the minute I stepped off the plane, with the absurd business of the exit sign and the correcting soldier."
The craziness of Russia intoxicates Frazier. It's a country that reveres literature and has produced great books;...
Beyond the Book
Ian Frazier encounters a diverse range of Siberian foodstuffs on his journey, from the salmon he helps to catch in the Bering Sea off Chukotka, to the linty sausage he pulls out of his luggage time after time on a long train trip. Here is a sampling of morsels from the culinary landscapes Frazier explores.
A brief hop from Alaska, Frazier enjoys his first taste of wild-caught salmon on the other side of the Bering Strait. When the fish start running, there are salmon steaks and a basic fish and potato soup called ukha
is made all over Siberia with whatever local fish is at hand. Russian soups are legendary; borshch
is the more familiar combination of beets and cabbage (often flavored with dill) and...