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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Potato Pie Proves Fit for Export

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About three years ago, a new neighbor moved into the apartment above ours. The first I knew about it was when sounds from the grand piano, which had been silent for many years, started to waft down to us. The pianist played Liszt so well that my wife and I would stop whatever we were doing and simply sit and listen.

A few days later, I was locking my front door when I saw a good-looking young lady coming down the staircase. Seeing me, she smiled shyly and with a thick English accent said, "I'm sorry, I must be bothering you with my piano playing. I'll try to play more quietly."

I assured her that my wife and I were great classical music fans and that there was no need to apologize.

That is how we became acquainted with Jane, and soon we were great friends. She was working on contract with some Moscow firm and had no close friends in the city, so my wife and I would frequently invite her over for coffee or for lunch. We liked her so much that we called her our American daughter.

Unfortunately, Jane's contract came to an end and she had to return to the United States. We saw her off to the airport and kept in touch with her via e-mail.

One day Jane wrote that she would be stopping over in Moscow to see us and to collect her winter things on her way to Europe. However, she didn't say when.

Some time later the phone rang. "It's me, Jane. I'm in Sheremetyevo Airport," she said, "I'm on my way over."

My wife started to panic. We had just finished having lunch and the fridge was practically bare. I pulled my coat on and headed over to the nearest shop.

When I returned, I saw that my wife was mashing boiled potatoes and frying onions in a pan.

"What are you making?" I asked.

"Potato pie."

"Are you crazy? You can't feed potato pie to our American guest!" I stuttered.

But my wife only gave me a sly smile and said, "We'll see."

We managed to fill the table with good things by the time Jane arrived, but our American daughter's attention was riveted to the potato pie (which, to be fair, was very tasty).

Jane could only spend a few hours with us and as she was getting ready to leave, my wife even offered the leftover half to her.

"Have it with tea in your hotel," she said.

A couple of weeks later, Jane called from San Francisco. "Mom wants the recipe for that pie," she told my wife. A few days after that, she wrote that the pie had turned out a treat and they had named it "Maria" after my wife.

It was also to be an addition to the family New Year's meal.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.