Hello esteemed guests! I guess it would be customary to say "ladies and gentlemen", but first of all, that would be genderist, and, secondly, if you're not a part of the proletariat, you'll never truly understand solyanka. Hencewhy esteemed.

Solyanka, for those who are not versed in eastern europe, is a soup consisting mostly of assorted meats, basically whatever is at hand and has not started smelling too funny yet, but of things that elicit a small nervous giggle when you think about what kind of new and exciting life it would bring forth if left to its' own accord. Potatoes also go in there, otherwise it would not be very proletarian now, would it? But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In addition to being proletarian as fuck, solyanka is unapologetically multicultural: lemon and olives float next to kielbasa and pieces of beef and/or chicken, with spices from Sakartvelo, carrots that have their origins in the Netherlands, and potatoes and tomatoes from across the seas. It is truly a metaphor for the tower of Babel in the form of a thick and hearty soup; and it is meant to be an affront to god, a stark reminder for them to quietly stay in their heaven lest we come and kill them there, as, obviously, nothing is sacred for us.

It always starts off as a simple lean beef stock. A rump fillet, a few carrots, a single red onion. A dash of monosodium glutamate in a form of bouillon cube, courtesy of chef Escoffier, incidentally removing the need for delicate salting, not that it matters later on. Let it simmer like a relationship complication - putting it on a low boil for hours and hours until you can't salvage anything, because when you try to pick things up, they fall apart. Fish out the onion. Leave the carrots. If it is possible, remove the beef. Add diced potato cubes. Or sticks. I don't care.

You are now at a crossroad. You take the red pill, you add pickled beetroot and some other stuff, and you get borscht. Borscht is love and borscht is life and nobody can convince me otherwise. You take the blue pill and you confront, no, not god, but rather yourself. No, don't take the blue pill yet. It all can be salvaged, there are ways... well, then. Violence it is. Are the potatoes more-or-less soft? It doesn't matter. None of it matters. There is no God, everything is permitted. Cut the beef however you like it. Dump it in the pot. Find kielbasa. Any kielbasa. Dice it. Dump it. Have you got other meats? Look in the fridge. Pork tongue in jelly, pork ham, chicken breast, doesn't really matter. Send it to the pot. Stir if you like. Don't if you don't.

It is at this point that I always remember my uncle, who, my grandma used to say, was very good at making solyanka. He probably still is, and I have never tasted his solyanka, but I have stolen some very good pointers off him, although I would never be able to copy his style, because my weak and very uneasterneuropean constitution doesn't let me drink, let alone be blackout drunk and mumbling vague threats to the unjust world while making a mean motherfucking solyanka. What I have learned off him, apart from the the fact that you should never argue with a drunk who has gotten into his mind that you're on drugs because your pupils are diluted (I was maybe twelve, for fuck's sake), is that when you're making a proper Wilnussian solyanka, you're supposed to be smoking and sometimes absentmindedly using the pot as the ashtray, striking some ash into it, and swearing profusely in your cigarette-smoke filled kitchen when you do that.

Did you add dill pickle juice? Dump the most of the jar. Since the cucumber is now left dry, cut it up too and add it to the simmering pot. Dump a can of pitted olives, sans the fluid. Cheapest ones will do. Slice the whole lemon. Keep the skin. Into the pot it goes. There's something missing, isn't there. Solyanka has to be of a healthy reddish color. Tomato paste or sauce is needed. How much? You decide. While you're at it, a half of a tablespoon of adjika will save even the sketchiest of the soups. Let it simmer for a while. No excessive heat is needed - the fats from kielbasa will form a heat-retaining layer that will prevent you from putting the pot into the fridge for several hours after the heat's off.

And now it's time to show restraint. Culturally rich communities are not built in a day. Some things are best not rushed. Let it sit for a night. Tomorrow is the day when you're putting it into a separate, smaller pot, heating it up, and tasting it with a spoon of sour cream. Tomorrow is when all good sketchy things happen. And the day after tomorrow.

And if you're insane, like me, for many many days to come. Have you ever considered the Perpetual Stew or Forever Soup?..