‘I’m a little surprised’: NATO summit venue in Madrid serves ‘Russian salad’ | Spain


As NATO leaders gather in Madrid for a summit unfolding in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the spotlight has been on a ubiquitous staple found in bars and restaurants in Spain: the Russian salad.

International officials and journalists were stunned to find the salad – a combination of potatoes, mayonnaise and vegetables known as Rusa salad – be sold as “Russian potato salad” at the summit location.

“Russian salad at a NATO summit? I am a little surprised by this choice of dish,” journalist Iñaki López told Spanish media la Sexta.

Russian salad on the NATO summit media center restaurant menu. Photography: Sabine Siebold/Reuters

While the name did little to dampen its popularity – the dish was said to have sold out within hours – within a day it was renamed, with the menu now listing it as “traditional salad”.

Spanish chef José Andrés went one step further, adding tomato dumplings and calling the dish Ukrainian salad as a sign of solidarity at the dinner he coordinated for visiting defense and foreign ministers on Tuesday.

It was an extension of a rebranding that began last month when Andrés announced he would change the name of the dish in all of his restaurants, joining a wave of bars and restaurants that have done so in recent months. .

And from tomorrow officially I announce that the iconic Spanish tapa: Ensaladilla Rusa…..will change its name to Ensaladilla kyiv or Ensaladilla Ucraniana….in all my restaurants!!! https://t.co/NSb8HKcUaY

—José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) May 14, 2022

Among the first was Mesón Martín, a three-decade-old restaurant in the northern city of Zaragoza. “Friends, we have decided to change the name of the famous salad”, announced the restaurant on social networks at the end of February. “From today you will find the Kyiv salad on our menu, in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”

It is not the first time that the Spanish staple – attributed by many to Italian-British chef Charles Elmé Francatelli – has fallen prey to politics. During Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, bars and restaurants often changed their names to en salad nationalor national salad, to avoid being associated with the dissemination of pro-communist propaganda.

Nor is it the first time that food has turned into a diplomatic pawn. In 2003, French fries and French toast were rebranded as “liberty fries” and “freedom toasts” in the cafeterias of the U.S. Congress by Republicans outraged by France’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq .

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