Allen Ginsberg’s Personal Recipe for Cold Summer Borscht


As sum­mer approach­es, let us look to Allen Gins­berg when we we feel dis­cour­aged by our lack of biki­ni-body. The author of “Sun­flower Sutra” did­n’t shy away from hav­ing his evolv­ing physique doc­u­ment­ed shirt­less or nude. Nar­row mind­ed beau­ty arbiters be damned. The man was well equipped for ten­e­ment liv­ing on the Low­er East Side of New York in the era before air-con­di­tion­ing.

Anoth­er Gins­ber­gian tac­tic for embrac­ing the sea­son’s heat: borscht. Unlike Rudolph Nureyev’s or Cyn­di Lau­per’s favorite from Vesel­ka, the round-the-clock Ukrain­ian din­er a few blocks from Gins­berg’s East Vil­lage home, Gins­berg’s borscht is veg­e­tar­i­an and cold. See the tran­scrip­tion of Gins­berg’s hand­writ­ten recipe below:


Dozen beets cleaned & chopped to bite size sal­ad-size Strips
Stems & leaves also chopped like sal­ad let­tuce
All boiled togeth­er light­ly salt­ed to make a bright red soup,
with beets now soft — boil an hour or more
Add Sug­ar & Lemon Juice to make the red liq­uid
sweet & sour like Lemon­ade

Chill 4 gallon(s) of beet liq­uid -

Serve with (1) Sour Cream on table
(2) Boiled small or halved pota­to
on the side
(i.e. so hot pota­toes don’t heat the
cold soup pre­ma­ture­ly)
(3) Spring sal­ad on table to put into
cold red liq­uid
1) Onions — sliced (spring onions)
2) Toma­toes — sliced bite-sized
3) Let­tuce — dit­to
4) Cucum­bers — dit­to
5) a few radish­es
Suit­able for Sum­mer Din­ner

Cold Sum­mer Borscht was but one of many soups to remerge from Gins­berg’s twelve-gal­lon stock­pot. Read about his final batch here. Bon Apetit.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Allen Ginsberg’s “Celes­tial Home­work”: A Read­ing List for His Class “Lit­er­ary His­to­ry of the Beats”

Allen Gins­berg Reads a Poem He Wrote on LSD to William F. Buck­ley

Allen Gins­berg Reads His Famous­ly Cen­sored Beat Poem, Howl

“Expan­sive Poet­ics” by Allen Gins­berg: A Free Course from 1981

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of sev­en books includ­ing Dirty Sug­ar Cook­ies: Culi­nary Obser­va­tions, Ques­tion­able Taste. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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