This baroque building located on Nevsky prospect in St-Petersburg is the Stroganov palace. In this article we will not question the origin of this palace because it is well known: it is Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli’s work, an Italian architect of the 18th century who made his whole career in Russia.
Our question is related to Stroganov but not the palace. It is linked to the dish: the beef Stroganov. We write Straganov, but could we not write Stroganoff, Strogonoff or Strogonov? Who is this famous Stroganov?
The recipe was perhaps created in honour of Alexander Stroganov (1795-1891), a Russian politician. He was Odessa’s mayor from 1851. In this city, perhaps the most French one in Russia, which was created by the will of the Great Catherine and developed by the Duke of Richelieu and the Count of Langeron, lot of French people of great talent emigrated. Maybe a cook created this recipe in his honour.
However, this recipe could also have been made in honour of another Stroganov: General Paul Stroganov. He was a French culture lover, born in Paris and the godson of Tsar Paul I. His childhood took place in Paris and Saint Petersburg, his education was entrusted to a French tutor.
Whether in honour of Alexander or Paul Stroganov, the French cook at the origin of this dish married the two arts of French and Russian cuisine: grilled meat served with a sauce.
We can say that the origin of this dish is French but it is attributed to Russian gastronomy. The marriage of the two cultures is even in the Russian name of the dish. “Boeuf” (for the French side, it means “beef” in French) and “Stroganov” (for the Russian side).
An old Russian expression says «Richer than a Stroganov, you die! », referring to the family of Russian tradesmen, industrialists and statesmen from the 16th to the 20th centuries who were knighted. This expression may also refer to the beef Stroganov dish as we know that there is a lot of cream and butter in the recipe….