Daily Archives: March 29, 2016

1920: Centenarian husband and nonagenarian wife reveal their longevity secrets

PopovAA

Demyan’s Fish Soup by Andrei Andreevich Popov, 1865 (published before 1923 and public domain in the US)

I’m always interested in stories of longevity, so when I came upon this one right after preparing a big old pot of borscht, my favorite soup, I could not help but feel validated about my cooking choice.

It was about a South Dakotan who’d made it to 100 (in 1920) and was living with his 96-year-old wife. They were originally from a place once known as Kulm, Bessarabia, South Russia. Today this location is known as Pidhirne, Odessa Region, Ukraine. The couple emigrated to the US in 1880, and of their 11 children, only one was still living in 1920.

Their lifestyle and her cooking seemed to be what kept the two of them going all those years, and apparently she was still doing the cooking at age 96. Perhaps, almost a century later there is something we can learn from them, or at least reinforce what we already know is key to a healthy, long life. Their “secrets”:

  • Low stress – they never spent time worrying about anything (although their life was not without heartache);
  • Physical activity – they performed manual labor on their farm every day;
  • They never worked too hard;
  • They never ate in excess;
  • She never baked him pies, cakes, cookies, etc., and they never ate any of those things;
  • They never ate candy—ever;
  • They never ate fried meat, except bacon on rare occasions;
  • They only ate Russian black / whole wheat / rye bread;
  • They drank milk in unlimited quantities;
  • Meat, eaten rarely, was roasted or boiled;
  • Soup – lots of it, every day; borscht was their favorite 😉 ;
  • Never used tobacco products;
  • Alcohol abstinence for last 20 years; just occasional wine before that.

************************************************************

borshcht1

My latest go at Moscow-style borscht topped with sour cream & fresh dill

Any surprises in the list? Just one for me: that they avoided cakes, pies, cookies, and candy altogether. I think I’d find it challenging to go even a week without at least one cookie. But reading their story does make me want to cut out processed sugar…. and eat more borscht!

Now, I know that there are many different styles of borscht, a dish that got its start in Ukraine. The one I am used to is Moscow-style borscht, and it is so delicious, I could eat it every day. I’ll leave you with the recipe. It’s very simple, and can be adjusted—you can easily make a vegetarian version.

Stay healthy and well, everyone, and have a good day.

borshcht3

A La Russe: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality p. 159 – an easy & delicious Moscow-style borscht recipe (Beef or vegetable bouillon works fine if you have no beef on hand.)

Categories: Food: Family Recipes & Favorites, Health Matters, Russia | Tags: | 5 Comments

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