Russian Food I

Dedicated to my wife Anastasia

Hi and welcome to first page of my Russian food series. I know it's unusual - what has food got to do with travel? But wait, I can explain!

See, Russian food is part of our culture. Studying our cuisine will bring you closer to knowing us - and that's exactly why I'm here for! After all - you are what you eat ;)

...but even if you're in for recipes - you've come to the right place, so grab a pen and a piece of paper!

There's one more reason I write about cooking on Moscow travel site. You've probably heard that Moscow is not Russia - I've always told it myself.

In truth there ain't so many things that average Russian and Muscovite have in common - but food is surely one of them!

From Moscow to Ural, from Petropavlovsk to Sochi, from Krasnodar to Syberia - everything changes but the dishes.

So I was thinking - maybe the food is more important than we're used to think? Who knows - maybe it's not presidents and constitutions that hold the countries together?

Crazy, huh? Well, you can never know!



Russian food is veeery old, and it absorbed lots of national dishes on the way. As Russia was expanding - so was its cookbook. , so these days, you can easily study Russian history right from the menu!

Our meals hold ages of legacy - shaped by the very history of our country. In fact, many dishes haven't changed a bit. Think about it - you're probably eating the same meal as Peter the Great!

The only lack of Russian food is lots of calories. Our ancestors needed them to work a lot and keep warm - and we don't nearly need so much!

But don't worry - you can still find many light and healthy dishes. The choice is huge! Oh yes, and one more thing - Russian food is the tastiest one I've ever eaten!

OK, let's start the review, shall we?


Russian Borscht


Russian food. Pot of Russian borscht.

Like Vodka, borscht is a symbol of Russia. It's slightly less popular than Kalashnikov - but you must've heard of it a lot!

No wonder - it's been around for ages. Borscht wasn't originally Russian - but these days we've got full right to claim it. After all, so many Russians including me ate it their entire lives!

To be honest, it's one of my favorite Russian food dishes. I loved it since I was little - and I'm still loyal to its wonderful taste. Guess some things never change!

There are lots of modifications around that came from different countries. Yep, borscht is very popular in Eastern Europe and especially CIS republics, but I think only Ukraine beats us in richness of recipe!

No worries - you can taste it right in Moscow. Either ask your friends or go out - there're plenty of restaurants that'll be happy to serve you with a plate of hot, tasty, rich Ukrainian borscht!

Like all Russian food, borscht is veeeery good for health. It's warm, it's liquid - and it's made of fresh vegetables (or it should be, at least!)

Just make sure there isn't too much fat in it - but that's usually not the case.

Another great thing is its flexible recipe - don't worry about playing around a little! Try different ingredients, make up your own recipe - borscht will remain borscht!

Russian Blini
(pancakes)

Russian food. Blini with caviar.

Blini with caviar...

Some more Russian bliny

....and blini with blini :)


Russian pancakes, or Blini, is yet another widespread Russian food.

They are simple to cook and don't require many things. That's what makes them main dish on Russian Maslenitsa, when the Great Lent has already begun.

Most of the products are prohibited - but blini make it through all the restrictions!

...but you don't have to wait for Maslenitsa to try them!

Wrap in everything - from meat to jam to caviar - it doesn't matter. Blini are truly universal - whether you serve them as dessert or main dish - they'll do just fine!

I could eat them forever - if not my wife's struggle for diet! Ahh, those women. Why can't they just let us be?? But then again - thanks to my wife I met my mother in law whose blini are probably the tastiest in the known Universe!

...right, Klaathu?

Caviar

Russian food.Caviar.

Caviar is another proud Russian symbol. In Russia, black caviar stands for wealth and prosperity - because it's soooo expensive!

There's even a funny poster - "Life's good!" written with black caviar on the background made with red one. Quite popular, actually - many wealthy Russians have it in their pompous offices.

I hated black caviar when I was a kid - a thing that shocked my parents. They tried so hard to get it - and when they finally did - I simply refused to eat it!

What can I say? For some reason I can't stand it until today - to me, that't the worst kind of Russian food!

But it's very good for health, really. Black caviar is loaded with proteins and vitamins - my parents knew what they were doing! But what can I do - kids aren't very reasonable, you know!

Caviar goes well with many dishes, and you can even eat it alone. Just put it on a piece of white bread with butter- and you're set to go!

These day, sales of black caviar are heavily quoted in Russia because of poachers who made sturgeon an endangered species!

You can buy it illegally in almost every Moscow market, but please, please don't do it. First - you'll have serious problems with customs if you get caught, and second - you'll encourage criminal business.

That's not to mention that quality of such caviar is often questionable and may seriously hurt your health - so play it safe!

Shashlik

Shashlyk  - a part of Russian cuisine.

A "real-deal" shashlik


Although it came from Caucasus, it's long been a part of Russian food tradition. It's simple, really - pieces of marinated meat with onion, slowly roasted on the skewer right above the glowing charcoal. You can say it's a Russian version of barbecue - but much less "civilized" one.

Shashlik is very "social" - it must be shared by many people. That's what the traditions state - and who are we to argue? Doesn't matter if it's your friends or family - but you can't make it alone!

This dish is traditionally made by men - as we say, "shashlik doesn't tolerate women's hands". Wow, wow, wow, I was only quoting! Don't worry - in reality, it's mostly done by women, while men only do the frying part (and firing up the brazier)!

The preparation is as socializing as eating. Everyone gathers around the fire to watch how raw meat is fried slowly.

Even if there are people you don't know - rest assured you'll get acquainted in no time! That's the magic of shashlik - somehow, it brings people together - and that's a great chance to make new friends!

Shashlik is also very intimate. If someone invites you to their dacha for shashlik - rest assured you've won their trust and respect.

Don't even think about turning down the invitation - you'll insult those people, won't make any new friends, and miss the chance to sit by the fire and have a delicious meal!

Just put on something warm - Moscow evenings can be quite chilly!

Russian Kvass

Kvass is a true part of Russian food

Now that's what I call "kvass"!


Kvass is the most famous non-alcoholic Russian drink after Vodka.

It's very tasty and it's a great thirst quencher - unlike Coca-Cola and other drinks that consist mostly of food chemistry and will only make you thirstier!

It's good, it's refreshing - and it's great for digestion thanks to all the mash and yeast in it.

Ahh, there's nothing better then the sip of cold kvass during hot Russian summer. It's a little bit sour - but not too much, plus all those tasty raisins floating in it... Yum!

Kvass is very easy to make at home - and that's in fact the best option. Of course you can buy it - but it'll have all this chemistry in it...

...although it's still much better than Coke!



Russian cuisine is vast - and there's no way to squeeze it into one page!

I guess I'll have to write the entire series - and I'll be more than happy to!

If you aren't very keen on the dishes I've presented - just read on - I'm sure you'll find something you'll like!

...and then you'll surely fall in love with the wonderful Russian food!




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