From Russia with mayo: the story of a Soviet super-salad

It is the afternoon of New Year’s Eve and I’m with my mother in the kitchen of our home in Omsk, south-west Siberia. Pots of boiling water steam the windows, obscuring the snowdrifts outside. On the table are mounds of potatoes, gherkins, carrots, eggs and chicken breast waiting to be diced. It’s a marathon I find meditative but my mother finds trying.