The Apple Road

“Humanity will be cured and saved by an orchard”
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Awhile back we were at Leila’s Shop in the East End of London, interviewing Leila McAlister, neighborhood kitchen activist, cook and grocer about her efforts to build community through food, when a beautiful Russian woman suddenly appeared balancing a high stack of beautifully illustrated candy boxes from a town called Kolomna, some 70 miles east of Moscow. Leila lit up, put down the prosciutto and began to tell us the remarkable history of Kolomna Pastila a nearly lost tradition of apple sweets, a tradition dating back to the time and orchards of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, now being revived by a group of Russian women, Natalia Nikitizna, Elena Dmitrieva and Elena Shampanova. They call the project the Kolomna Museum of Forgotten Taste. The revival of the candy factory of Kolomna has not only brought pastila to world at large, but has helped revive the once thriving town of Kolomna and is now taking the women on The Apple Road – in search of rare apples and lost orchards around the world to collaborate on reviving heritage breeds of apples and lost cultural traditions. An international project that brings people together from around the world in their love of apples, orchards and stories.

We had yet to make a story about this encounter, but this summer, Kitchen Sisters intern, David Fuchs from Middlebury, heard this orphan tape, and crafted this story — The Apple Road: A Hidden Russian Kitchen as part of our series, Hidden Kitchens: War and Peace and Food. Thank you, David.

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This story was produced by David Fuchs – David first stumbled into the kitchen in October 2015 and returned as a full-fledged intern the following summer. Although he’s a third-generation Northern Californian, he was first bit by the radio bug while working as a Narrative Journalism Fellow at Middlebury College in Vermont. His work as a radio producer and print journalist has been featured on KWMR, WDEV and Middlebury Magazine and in The Tiburon Ark,  The Addison Independent and Vermont Sports Magazine. As a rising senior, he hopes to combine his passion for journalism and background in geography to produce compelling stories that tie individual narratives into larger geographic contexts. When he’s not working on a story, you’ll most likely find him honking on the sax, bouncing around in the waves or tracking down the perfect burrito.