It’s surprising how many Russian ingredients can be found in local favorites

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As we approach the Winter Solstice all manner of festivals are mere weeks away. While consumerism would suggest the season is all about buying yet more things none of us really need, there is also food to be considered.

And so, for this soon-to-be festive season, I’d like to propose some dishes that capture the unique flavor of our times.

We begin with the Brexit Burger. This tasty item will be delivered to your home, albeit far later than promised. In addition, there will be several alterations to the ingredients list and price. Originally sold as completely free and made from pure ground fillet mignon, the Brexit Burger will in fact cost one hundred billion pounds. As the people who sold us the Brexit Burger didn’t actually know how to make burgers, the thing that will be deposited on our doorsteps in 2020 will in fact be a dog turd sandwiched between two sheets of Conservative Party Manifesto. Fortunately, everyone who ordered the Brexit Burger will convince themselves that it’s really wonderful anyway.

Next up (in the emetic sense of the phrase) comes the Trump Taco. Billed as the Greatest Taco, the Most Stable Taco, the Best Taco To Grab, it has an extremely fragile outer shell that crumbles at the slightest pressure. Inside is mostly hot air that escapes via a persistent whining noise. While there’s no ground beef per se there is a great deal of material deposited by cows. Due to extremely high staff turnover, Trump Tacos are delivered in a haphazard manner, often by Russians in exchange for suitcases full of hundred-dollar bills. Trump Tacos also taste oddly of Borsch, which the manufacturer now claims is entirely a Ukrainian national dish and definitely not anything to do with Russia at all. Each Trump Taco contains a warning that anyone stupid enough to eat it should watch out for imaginary bone spurs.

Moving eastward brings us to the Putin Pelmeni, a traditional Russian dish of corruption and kleptomania mixed together with extremely soured cream left over from the days of the Soviet Union. Although the recipe is simple, due to staff stealing ingredients and kitchen equipment, actual production of pelmeni is rare. Furthermore, as the kitchen is staffed exclusively by burly middle-aged men each carrying at least five different semi-automatic weapons, the few delightful examples of Kremlin Cuisine that do get made frequently have special surprises contained within them. Lucky customers get empty shell casings in their pelmeni; less fortunate customers learn that “what goes around eventually becomes a round, usually 9mm parabellum.”

Sliding downward in all senses of the term we come to Bolsonaro Bolinhos, a traditionally fishy Brazilian dish composed in equal parts of populism, corruption, and organized crime. In years gone by these dumplings would be cooked in oil but the preferred method these days is to char-broil them by burning down the Amazon rain forest.

Staying in southerly latitudes we now encounter the Duterte Adobo, these days found practically on every city street corner in the Philippines. Its primary ingredient is anyone unwise enough not to pay off the local police, for such hapless folk automatically become terrorists and are thus shot by the over-eager and over-armed constabulary. On the principle of “don’t waste what you’ve just wasted,” these ex-citizens are then rendered down and shredded to make delicious dumplings that are stir-fried, this being their very last wok on the wild side.

Everyone knows France is the home of haute cuisine and so it’s no surprise that here we find the le Pen Parmentier, a thick and uninspired warmed-over version of an old German favorite that is always served à droite (“the right way”). This dish is popular in rural France where folk don’t mind the strong gamey smell of rotting ideals mixed with red wine and xenophobia and seasoned with anti-black pepper. Traditionalists sometimes call this dish le Dreyfuss because it reminds them of the good old days when being anti-Semitic was still as acceptable as a half-smoked Gauloise and a half-baked politician. As all the ingredients were paid for in Roubles it is perhaps not entirely surprising that this particular version of Parmentier also tastes strangely of Borsch.

Staying in Europe we sidle sideways to Italy where Spaghetti alla Salvini, also known as Il Capitano Carbonara, is on the menu for tomorrow afternoon. This dish claims to be made exclusively from ingredients grown in the northern Italian countryside and is redolent of Mussolini Margherita with its pungent odors and strident overtones. Enthusiasts claim not to be able to detect any hint of Borsch and say the dish’s beetroot color is purely a consequence of right-thinking Italian tomatoes. While the ingredients may (or may not) be Italian, the staff depend entirely on European Union funds to serve the dish, which is always presented to guests as an example of why Italy should leave the European Union (once all the structural funds have been spent).

Moving north to Poland we find ourselves staring uncomfortably at the aptly-named PiS Pierogi, about which the less said the better.

We wrap up our quick tour of popular global concoctions by ending in China where the Winnie WonTon has become both the dish of today and the dish of all tomorrows. Named humorously after the look-alike cartoon bear that bears a striking resemblance to Emperor Xi Jinping, this little dumpling is full of exotic ingredients such as powdered rhino horn, powdered tiger penis, shark’s fin, and and powdered pangolin. A huge restaurant chain affectionately known as Extinction Express utilizes these ingredients extensively and will continue to do so until the very last of the animals is no more. Meanwhile the benevolent Chinese state watches everyone’s dumpling consumption carefully so that at an appropriate time anyone whomsoever of the tens of millions consuming these tasty little treats can be arrested and disappeared into the vast hinterland of customer re-education facilities where a less indulgent diet will feature prominently on the menu.

This concludes our brief survey of some of the world’s better-known Populist Plates. If your country has been omitted, don’t worry: a diet of mindless populism will be reaching you in the very near future.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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