History Of Russian Food

Ever wondered in a Russian restaurant and got amazed by the amount of calories that each dish contained? Or, maybe, thought why do these Russians eat that vegetable soup with meat, then pasta with meat and then have that sugar-rich drink with plenty of fruit? Read on, for we are about to tell you where the Russian food is coming from and, most importantly, why is it this way.
For starters, let’s remember that Russia, aside from being a land of Tsars, Bolsheviks, Revolution, Perestroika and Sputnik is a vast amounts of land. It’s so big it takes almost 1/6th of total surface of all land on Earth. Apparently, the climate there isn’t always friendly. In fact, most of the Russia’s land experiences cold weather approximately 7 – 8 months in a year. Which doesn’t leave much for warm-loving crops, animals and other growing or running food that one can procure.
Such conditions required that prepared food has to be easily preserved and provided enough energy for people to survive during long cold months when procurement of food was hard or not possible. This has led to dishes like “borsh” – heavy vegetable soup with cabbage, beet and, in some recipes, small pieces of meat, “okroshka” – another heavy soup based on kvas or kefir with (varying from recipe to recipe) pre-boiled eggs, cucumbers, potato, small cubes of meat, onions and a number of additional ingredients or ever famous “pelmeni” (aka ravioli) – a nice little pack of meat (proteins) and dough (carbs, fiber) that is very easy to prepare and consume.
It has also created a number of dry snacks, that are well preserved and usually consumed together with some sort of alcoholic drink (beer, vodka, “samogon”) as those too provide high energy boost and produce sense of warmness, necessary during cold times.
Most of traditional Russian meals are not spicy. However, being such a vast land, Russia inevitably happen to be the place where East and West would cross their paths. Roads from Asia lead to Europe – all the way through Russian spaces. Apparently, getting spices and other condiments, not custom to original Russian foods, was much easier business for cooks in Russia, than it was for Europeans. The fact that this land had been a place of many crossroads also explains why Russian food has meals similar to those in many different countries. For example, Russian vareniki or pelmeni are very similar to ravioli from the West and dumplings from East.
The energy volume of Russian meals have been, so far, rarely superseded. Traditional Russian bread and milk breakfast is hardly anywhere near (calorie-wise) to any other breakfast – weather European or Asian. Russian “vareniki” or “pelmeni” with traditional sour cream are a killer meal that is quite heavy on proteins, carbs and fat.

Russian Food Day

The following is a contemporary yet already traditional course of Russian food for the whole day. Whether you want to take a day off just to experience this course or invite your friends over for just a part of it – I’m sure it will be fun.

To start our RUSSIAN FOOD DAY you have a choice of a light breakfast or a heavy breakfast. Light breakfast consists of two boiled eggs with two slices of Russian white bread with butter. Heavy breakfast is three scrambled eggs with chicken and pork cutlet and same two slices of bread and butter. After you’re done with this part you get a saucer full of farmer cheese (also known as Tvorog) and a big cup of hot sweet tea.

Get some rest, go work in a field. Come dinner time, depending on weather you could have two choices of either a hot weather dinner or a cold weather dinner. Let’s start with cold weather dinner.

First course is, of course, borsh with garlic bread cakes. Don’t mind the after-smell, it’s just tasty. Second course is a famous chicken Kiev cutlet with fried or mashed potatoes. Alternatively, you can have pelmeni with sour cream, butter or vinegar (some people do find it tasty). Side dishes must include sour cabbage,pickles or pickled tomatoes. Add vodka to the taste. Then you can either have hot tea again, kvas or compot (recommended) – a drink that’s heavy on a fruit juice and sugar.

For hot weather dinner you may want to start with okroshka – a cold vegetable soup based on mix of sour cream and water (some people use kvas instead, but this practice is questionable). There is also a so called cold borsh, but okroshka is just much better tasting. Second course should consist of either golubci (mix of meat and rice rolled into cabbage leaves and stewed) or stuffed peppers or stewed meatballs with fried or mashed potatoes. Side dishes may include same sour cabbage, vinegret, fresh or pickled vegetables or salad. And finally, for the third course, you can have same compot, fruit juice or mors, jelly drink (kisel) or hot tea.

If you think that’s enough for today – you are wrong. You’re only half way through.

The poldnik is something similar to British five-o-clock, but is held at around 4 – 4:30 PM. Usually it consists of a cup of cocoa drink, hot milk or hot tea and a large cookie, piece of cake or something else baked.

Fourth meal for the day (aren’t you tired of eating yet?) is a late supper. Sure you have already noted that previous three meals are somewhat formalized. The late supper is the one with the most variety. You can repeat the breakfast or you can have something else – the choice is yours. Historically, late supper was needed to clear out whatever was left after breakfast or dinner, so that no leftovers would take up place in a refrigerator. Therefore this meal is open to improvisations.

Fifth and last meal was late night tea time. This is where the samovar comes into play. Sweet hot tea was usually served with bakery of all kinds, sweets, honey or various fruit jams or preserves.

If you could survive this five-meal marathon, you surely can work a 12 – 14 hour workday, have only one-day weekend, down a bottle of vodka with two unknown fellows and get home still standing straight.