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Document of the Day: Cooking Classified Soviet Borscht With FOIA


For over 50 years, the Central Intelligence Agency kept a rather tasty document hidden away: a translated copy of the Soviet Army’s 1948 “Manual for the Cook-Instructor of the Ground Forces in Peacetime.” Our attention was drawn to this by the enterprising MuckRock, a GIJN member in good standing that specializes in unearthing and analyzing government records. The cookbook, found in the CIA’s declassified archives, lists the cook’s duties as well as a dozen recipes — including varieties of borscht, like “borscht with sauerkraut” and “borscht with beet leaves.”

The document’s cover sheet was withheld in full, so there is no explanation for why this manual was translated into English in 1956, eight years after it was first published.

Click to read full PDF.

MuckRock challenged its readers to cook borscht using one of the recipes. David and Shannon Perry not only obliged, but live-tweeted their experience.

For the full cookbook, be sure to check out Muckrock’s Cooking with FOIA series.

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