Immigrant Decor: A suitcase full of matryoshkas and salami, by Anna Tarkov

Last updated on March 5, 2024

Today’s peek into the immigrant home comes from Anna Tarkov, a journalist and blogger from Chicago. She’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago, and others, and her blog, THE OUTSIDER… and the rueful dilettante, is full of insights on the state of journalism today. Though she left the USSR much later than my family, she seems to really echo my own sentiments towards Soviet/Russian identity, and like me, seems much more oriented towards a North American identity, and had few Russian friends growing up. Yay internet for these small discoveries!

Anna wrote a post on her blog for this series—a short excerpt is below, and please click on over there for the rest. It’s well worth the read, I promise!

Growing up, I think we had all the typical Russian furniture and accoutrements. When we fled the country though, it wasn’t as though we could take any of it with us. However, we did take several enormous suitcases filled with all sorts of stuff like this (only ours was less fancy I think; the Target/Wal-Mart version if you will :-)).

I didn’t know it then, but it was all slated to be a source of income for us when we lived in Italy for three months awaiting our American visas which were granted via lottery. My father carted a ton of this stuff as well as non-perishable (I hope!) Russian foodstuffs like salami and caviar to open air markets every Sunday. But there was still a ton left after we got to the U.S. We dipped into it for years for the purposes of gift-giving to our American friends and relatives who of course found it all incredibly charming. The question is, did my family feel the same way? Keep reading…

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