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Smashing Cucumbers

Smashed cuke fin

This marvelously smashing story starts in the very beginning of twentieth century, when a U.S. naval officer Pinkerton, stationed in Nagasaki, Japan, temporarily marries a lovely fifteen-year-old Japanese girl Cio-Cio-san. Her name means Madam Butterfly, and Giacomo Puccini’s opera is called, in Italian, Madama Butterfly. How could one marry temporarily, you might ask? “Throughout the world, – explains Pinkerton to the American consul, – the Yankee wanderer is not satisfied until he captures the flowers of every shore and the love of every beautiful woman. So I am marrying in the Japanese style: for 999 years, but with the right to cancel the marriage each month.” The consul, obviously, is less than happy with this image of an American presented to the world and doesn’t hesitate to express his disapproval, but to no avail. The wedding ceremony proceeds, and the newlyweds are blissfully happy – for one month. Then the young husband sails away, as he had planned. Butterfly’s maid warns her that foreign husbands never return to their wives, yet the love-struck teenager wholeheartedly believes Pinkerton’s promise to “return with the roses, when the earth is full of joy, when the robin makes his nest.”

“One fine day we shall see, – sings inimitable Maria Callas in one of the most sublime arias of the opera repertoire, – a puff of smoke on the far horizon. Then a ship will appear and enter the harbor. Then he will speak the names he used to call her: “Little one. Dear wife. Orange blossom.”

Guess what, Beautiful People? Three years later, a ship does appear, bearing Pinkerton and his American wife Kate. Butterfly does not feature in their plans; Pinkerton is sure that she had forgotten him, until the consul reveals shocking truth: not only has she been waiting all this time, turning down numerous marriage proposals, but she also had a child, “my American son,” as she proudly calls him. Wonderfully kind Kate agrees to adopt the boy and raise him as her own. But cowardly Pinkerton cannot bring himself to face the woman he had wronged, so Kate, accompanied by the consul, is left to explain the situation to Butterfly, who consents to give up her child, but only “if he comes himself.”

“Farewell, my flowery refuge,” sings the late great Luciano Pavarotti. Pinkerton is saying Good-bye to the little house on the hill and the glorious time spent there with his little “Orange Blossom” Butterfly. Meanwhile, she is busy preparing her exit. She blindfolds her son and gives him an American flag, to wave in greeting his father. Then she takes out her father’s knife and reads the inscription “Who cannot live with honor must die with honor.” Don’t worry, she does not traumatize the child by committing seppuku (ritual suicide) in front of him; she disappears behind the screen, and we hear the knife clattering on the floor, then she appears, her throat wrapped in a scarf, all very tasteful. Sure enough, at that moment Pinkerton rushes in, but she is dead. All that is left for him to do is to collect his son and go home.

There were quite a few variations of this story on stage and screen, including a smashing (superb) musical Miss Saigon, where the story is moved to Vietnam during the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon.

To the smashing (wonderful, marvelous, splendid, superb, magnificent) music and the story about a thoughtless young man smashing (breaking) a girl’s heart, I add a smashing (delightful) cucumber salad.

As you see, it is the easiest salad you have ever made, and it only takes a couple of minutes. I have it on reliable authority that it is one of the most popular appetizers on the menus of Chinese restaurants in both Russia and Ukraine. I only wish they smashed cucumbers instead of people’s lives!


  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 5 – 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 sweet bell pepper or hot peppers to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame oil
  • Black sesame seeds to taste
  • Chopped salad greens to garnish


  • Cut cucumbers into wedges. Smash garlic (I use blunt side of heavy meat tenderizer).
  • Place both into Ziplock or silicone bag. Smash bag until liquid appears. Transfer into bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  • garnish with chopped greens and serve.


About the guest author:

undefined Dolly Aizenman is the brainchild behind Kool Kosher Kitchen (Which her blog and her book are named after).

This charismatic Russian blogger is fond of cooking and writing.

She has a BA in Art and Music Education, MA in English, MS in Education and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.


Published by koolkosherkitchen

I am a semi-retired educator. I love to cook and I love to write. I am trying to combine these two for no other purpose but to share some of my old favorite recipes, as well as some new inventions, and to exchange food ideas and opinions. Kosher food is just like any other food - fun to create and fun to experiment with, especially if you get kids involved! My book is found on

21 thoughts on “Smashing Cucumbers

      1. I know no such thing, I am still in the wheelchair and don’t have access to my own kitchen, and this dish was created literally in two minutes on a little card table pulled up to my couch. You are too sweet, dear Renard!

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