Guests of the NATO summit in Madrid were surprised by the “Russian salad” for 8 euros

Serious battles unfolded around the name of the appetizer

At the NATO summit in Madrid, despite the euphoria over the removal of obstacles for Turkey to join the alliance between Sweden and Finland, a scandal broke out with gastronomic and political overtones. The reason for it was the appearance of the Russian salad in the cafe menu for the participants of the meeting.


International officials and journalists were stunned to find “Russian salad” at the top of the menu at a restaurant waiting for world leaders at a highly secure NATO summit site on the outskirts of Madrid, Reuters reported.

In fact, a salad of peas, potatoes, carrots and mayonnaise, a bit reminiscent of Olivier salad, has long become one of the main dishes on the menu of Spanish restaurants, but on the eve of the NATO summit, at which Russia is expected to be called a “security threat” in the new strategic concept of the alliance in connection with the conflict in Ukraine, the presence of a harmless snack on the menu caused bewilderment.

“Russian salad at the NATO summit? I'm a bit surprised by this choice of dish,” journalist Iñaki López told Spanish publication La Sexta.

As noted by Reuters, the dish's attractively high carbohydrate content seemed to outweigh its “dubious” name, and reportedly the salad was sold out within a few hours. The cost of a serving of “Russian salad” (Ensaladilla Rusa) is 8 euros according to the menu.

More diplomatic thoughts were applied to the menu served to NATO defense and foreign ministers at a banquet at the baroque Santa Cruz Palace in central Madrid on Tuesday evening.

José Andrés, Spanish chef from the Netflix series The “chef's table” that coordinated the ministerial meal served this classic tapas, but added “tomato dumplings” to it and renamed the dish “Ukrainian salad” as he did in his restaurants throughout Spain.

Be that as it may, at the NATO summit, someone showed “political myopia”, giving the wits a reason to change the line from the old fable of Sergei Mikhalkov: “But Russians eat salads!”

In general, about that the traditional “Russian salad” began to be renamed in Spanish catering establishments into “Ukrainian” or “Kyiv”, the media reported back in March.

It all started when the Mesón Martín restaurant in Malaga changed the name of the salad on its menu, calling it “ensaladilla Kiev” instead of “ensaladilla rusa” and added a small image of the Ukrainian flag next to it. The initiative was quickly picked up, and other bars and restaurants renamed their “Russian” salad into “Ukrainian”. And the owner of one of the establishments decided to rename the “Russian salad” into “Olivier salad”, apparently not suspecting that this is the most popular New Year's snack in Russia.

By the way, during the fascist dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco in Spain, they already tried to rebrand the popular salad, which has been known in this country since at least 1858, when it was mentioned as part of the menu proposed in the book “Modern Cuisine” according to the French and Spanish school Spanish chef Mariano Munoz. After the Civil War, attempts were made in some Francoist circles to change the name “Russian” to “national salad” or “imperial salad” in order to avoid any association of the dish with the Soviet Union or communist ideas. Nevertheless, even during the life of Franco in the 1950s, one could find information about the “Russian salad” in cookbooks.

In general, the “Russian salad” (this is how its Spanish name can be literally translated) is popular not only in the Iberian Peninsula, but also in other countries – for example, in Scandinavia (russisk salat).

In principle, there is nothing new in boycotting the names of dishes – suffice it to recall that during the US aggression in Iraq, Americans changed the name of french fries from “French fries” (that is, French fries” to “Freedom fries” (that is, “freedom of fries”) after the French government opposed the intervention in 2003. Subsequently, however, everything returned to full circle.

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