I'm Eating What?! Adjika

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Photo by Riki Altman
What are those Russians hiding?
​Continuing on with our theme of Russian foods we don't recognize but are willing to try for the sake of science, we dug into a jar of what we later discovered was adjika, something that looked like it belonged between the categories of "dip" and "sauce." 

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Photo by Riki Altman
This topper is tops.
​Before we flipped the whole thing over to discover what the contents were (items in this Russian market oftentimes had labels with English translations somewhere), the packaging had us smitten for some reason. Perhaps it was the regal gold trim on the product's label, matching the gold lid with its intricate black and gold design. Maybe it was the super skinny, smartly dressed dancing couple illustration on the top, or the seal that assured us it was 100 percent something. (We guessed that something is "organic," since the sticker also had a leaf with water droplets on it, but who knows.) Or it could've been the juxtaposition of the cartoon-y vegetables divided from Old World portraits of a regal feast and a common laborer by golden columns. Then again, maybe we were just wondering why Russian pico de gallo needs to come in such a fancy container.

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Photo by Riki Altman
Pure artistry. But how pretty is it inside?
​Regardless, we couldn't wait to get home and dig in. But wait--how are we supposed to eat this stuff? A quick visit to Wikipedia, though informative in other ways, didn't provide the answer. Google's second suggestion led us to a site called Practically Edible. Though the site's moniker was disconcerting, the page was more informative, telling us adjika is used as an ingredient when cooking. Another site suggested we serve it "with filled breads, such as Georgian cheese-filled quick bread or potato-and-herb-filled bread, or as a condiment with grilled meats such as marinated lamb kebabs, or as part of a mezze table." And someone on flickr smudged adjika on melon and shot a photo for posterity, so there's obviously an option. Interesting. Yet since our kitchens contained none of the aforementioned, and we had no plans to whip up some borscht or beans either, we just we decided to brave it in its pure form.

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Photo by Riki Altman
How do you say "yummers" in Russian?
​The ingredient list comprised, in this order: "water, tomato paste, sugar, salt, garlic, acetic acid, horseradish, paprika green, spices and spices." Obviously lots of spice in here. The final vote? This stuff is yummy with a capital "Y." Don't quite know what we'll smear it on, but it will be put to good use, for sure.

Who should eat this stuff? Along with the over 1,000 "friends" adjika has on its Facebook page, we say anybody who is downright bored with ketchup and needs a Russian kick in the mouth.



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Philipok
Philipok

I didn't know what this was, but bought it from the supermarket on a whim. Now I use it like mustard or horseradish and add it to sauces for a zing! Scrumptious!

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