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It took me as many as thirteen years to write the fifty-six sketches that make up this book. I first wrote something in this peculiar genre in 2004 and the latest of these texts came along in 2017.

I have always felt that gastronomy was a very important and in a sense fundamental branch of human knowledge. And not just because the gastronomic experiences, as someone aptly phrased it, are a unique conglomerate of sensations supplied by all five human senses – taste, smell, sight, hearing, and touch – and in this regard only sex can fully compete with them.  Another source of its importance is that gastronomy quite naturally turns out to be a literally undrainable source of incredibly fascinating snippets from people’s lives.

The workings of all five senses leave five distinct imprints in your memory. Coming together and superimposing, they are the only thing capable of creating a truly vivid, three-dimensional picture of a minute that flew by once upon a time and maybe even of a full day that was once lived.

It turns out that I am not writing gastronomical sketches; rather I am infinitely adapting and readapting the story about the evanescence of all that exists, the story that unfolds again and again, in different circumstances and various shapes.

Oddly enough, every such experience turned out to be firmly tied not only to a specific year, a point on the time axis, but also to another point – on the geographical map.

I know it may sound absurd, flippant, even grotesque, but hear me out: a thing meant to be put on a plate and eventually end up in a stomach, turns out to be a universal fabric tying together time and space.

Original language: Russian. Around 350.000 words.

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