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Almost 10 years Aljonuschka Dresden - Russian specialties with love!

An interview with the owner Tatjana, conducted by Dirk Andersch (Editorial Lust auf Dresden)

"I want to bring my culture to the people," says Tatiana Olifirenko, taking a sip of Ivan Chai tea from a podstakanniki. “But my culture is not Russia. Not a country. No flag.” Her culture is Rossiyskaya, she says. This Rossiyskaya can probably best be described as a kind of cultural umbrella under which many people find themselves who belong to very different nations, peoples and cultures as a heimat would designate. A roof under which Georgians and Uzbeks, Tatars and Kazakhs and also Ukrainians and Russians can unite. Since centuries. And regardless of whether someone at the ruling level has just decided to incite brother peoples against each other.

Tatiana Olifirenko lives this culture of unification, a bit of Tatar, Ukrainian, Russian and German cultural assets. And this interplay of cultures, the similarities but also the differences that are expressed in the Rossijskaja, can also be found in her life's work: the Aljonuschka restaurant in Salzgasse 2.


If you want to know how much diversity is hidden behind it, you only have to take a look at the menu. Because there is Ukrainian borscht next to Georgian pizza and Belarusian potato pancakes. And if all this is too western for you, you might be happy about the Uzbek plov. There is a good reason but only on Thursdays. Thursday is Plov Day in Uzbekistan. “We used to have a different dish every day of the week at the Kreuzkirche. And Thursday was just Plow”. It was only some time later that Tatiana Olifirenko learned from Uzbek guests that plov is traditionally served on Thursdays in Uzbekistan. And that's what prompted her to offer Plow permanently on Thursday.


There is a story for every dish and every object in the restaurant. Partly experienced and partly intensively researched. Because – and the owner attaches great importance to this – there is hardly anything in the restaurant or on the menu that she cannot tell you something about. "I like to communicate," she says. “I liked that even when I was still working in the social kitchen. So many people, so many stories". She likes to tell her stories. How she came up with her very own recipe for her solyanka and how she regularly gets compliments on it – even from people in Moscow. How she fell in love with Podstakanniki and had to search a long time before she found the ones that now serve Ivan Chai tea at Alyonushka (and of the original 10, 3 have now ended up in the possession of guests with a strange interpretation of ownership are). And just how she learned with the Uzbeks to cook the plov in the way it is offered in the restaurant today and eaten by them regularly on Thursdays.


In October 2023, the Alyonushka will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Tatiana Olifirenko will then look back on ten turbulent years with ups and downs. Her heart project originally came about in September 2013 together with the initiative at “Café Prag”. After it ended in October 2015, she had to find a new home very early on. But that turned out to be a stroke of luck. Because in the new location at the Kreuzkirche, the Russian restaurant quickly became a popular lunch spot for the employees in the surrounding offices. At times, the tables at Aljonuschka were so coveted that people queued up onto the street. At the Kreuzkirche, however, it was over last year, because the office demanded an investment for continued operation, the amount of which neither the landlord nor the operator could economically account for. That's why there have been pelmeni, pancakes and much more at Salzgasse 2 since April 1, 2022.


"The world belongs to those who enjoy it," says the Aljonuschka menu. And it is precisely these enjoyable people who come here to be taken on a culinary journey.


But Russia is much more than vodka, Moscow and solyanka. Even if, of course, a vodka is typically served after every meal, "Moscow" is written on the tea glass holder and the solyanka is of course one of the most ennobled and ordered dishes in the restaurant.


Many guests at the Alyonushka are regulars. And most of them belong in some way to the Rossiyskaya culture themselves. Because they appreciate how typical the dishes taste here. Because it is a little piece of home for them. A place where their shared culture lives and is kept alive. Because they appreciate the ambience, the warmth and the variety. "It's nice to have regular customers who tell you that solyanka tastes better here than in Russia. But I'm doing this here for the most part because I want to bring my culture to the people. And I'm happy about every German who we can show how diverse Russian culture is," says Tatiana Olifirenko.


Anyone who gets involved will be richly rewarded. Rewarded with a journey like in the Trans-Siberian Railway. With tea from tea glass holders, like the ones served on that train. With gratinated pelmeni that taste as if you were thousands of kilometers to the east and not in Dresden. With beef stroganoff, served in a quaint little sauce pot. And with a dessert that makes the vodka served at the end really necessary. Because all in all it was so delicious that of course you ate way too much of it. 


But that's also part of the culture. Eat, enjoy like there is no tomorrow. Because the world belongs to those who enjoy it. Aljonushka definitely understood that.

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