Here we have Polish Great Great Uncle Wronski — spelled in his adopted motherland of Russia thus: Vronsky — with his buddy Leon Tolstoy. Rumor had it that friend Leon gave one of his famous fictional characters the name Vronsky after his buddy. My Great Great Uncle!

Interestingly, Uncle did have some similarities to the fictional Vronsky. What with all the hanging around with Tolstoy, the missus would make a big fuss about how he was never home; and she with the chores, and all. Back then the clothes were dried outside on a string.

Lore has it Uncle and Leon liked to meet up regularly, whiling the hours, dicoursing over strong coffee and the occasional snort. Of snuff, that is. Oh, yes. And the more than occasional snoot. Of vodka, that is. 

Uncle made his own snuff from leaves grown in his Grandmother's dhaka. Babcha would harvest the leaves in their prime in late summer and hang them to dry and ferment through the bucolic fall days in a well ventilated barn with just enough dappled sunlight to give her leaves a pleasant chocolaty hue. Then to mature over the winter packed tightly in oak barrels Dzadza had made by hand just for that tobacco.

Come spring the pungent leaves would be cracked out of the barrels and broken by hand into as small pieces as possible. Then ground painstakingly to a fine powder in a huge natural stone mortar with a heavy marble pestle.

Why, you might wonder, all the emphasis on the snuff. Well, it was pretty, pretty, pretty good stuff. And, as a matter of fact, you should also know that originally Vronsky was indeed the namesake for the feckless nobleman in one of Tolstoy's yarns. He was a Count, in fact. Wronski liked the idea of his name in a novel. He insisted on being called ... Count. Until, that is, he read the tale. What a cad the one in the story was. So, Uncle took it back and it was some time before he lived that one down. He opted to be known for his snuff.

Fortunately, he is fondly remembered — to this day — for that snuff. Some vintages survive and fetch staggering sums. In his home town of Yasnaya Polyana even today when someone sneezes the custom is to say "Vronsky!" It's like a "God Bless You" or a "Gesunheit". If you've ever taken snuff, you know what I'm referring to. 

Here's a very obscure fact about Uncle Vronski. You probably know well the Battle of Vienna. It was at that skirmish where one General Sobieski defeated the invading Ottoman hordes. The victors demanded the vanquished also divulge the secrets of their legendarily famous cuisine. Wronski was honored — the General liked the snuff — with the secret recipe for Baba Ganoush. Which, the Wronski family to this day continues to prepare according to that delicious Uncle's original recipe. 

And, which Sobieski happens to be the name of one pretty, pretty, pretty good Vodka. Drink it as ice cold shots with a beer chaser; or, better, a homemade dill pickle.

See all the other Wronski's by going to the sidebar "Oh! Wronski / All My Relations".

Or, for the full bore hystericalicity CLICK to go to this page.

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