Rye, the Roots and Origins

of Russian cuisine

They say this is mind-blowing for the foreigners. A soup with soda water? A meat-broth jelly? Herring and beetroot in one salad? All these are a part of classical Russian cuisine traditions.

Bread, the Staff of Life

They say this is mind-blowing for the foreigners. A soup with soda water? A meat-broth jelly? Herring and beetroot in one salad? All these are a part of classical Russian cuisine traditions. The traditions of Russian cuisine are rooted in the country’s climate and history. Let us begin discussing Russian cuisine at the very beginning.

An old Russian proverb says: “Bread is the staff of life” Bread is a must for every meal in Russia. In the old days Russians used to bake flavorful round loafs in their stoves at home. Nowadays they buy bread batons in supermarkets. No matter the shape or form, you will find bread almost on every table in Russia.

For Russians, bread is not only food, but also the base for traditional drinks, like kvass. This refreshing eye opener soft drink was so popular that by the 15th century some 500 sorts of it were known. Slightly sour taste, bread scent, and dark beer flavor… Even today, kvass successfully competes with sodas and coke.

Be it a holiday feast or an ordinary meal, Russians can’t help eating without bread.

Cold, hot and jellied soups

Kvass is also one of ingredients of the okroshka soup, a dish that tastes most exotic to foreigners. Normally, they serve okroshka soup during the hot summer season. This is how they make it: you should pour non-sweet kvass to cover finely chopped vegetables, herbs and boiled meat. Sounds really unusual. The taste is also unmatched, but very interesting and nice.

Though, more often Russians seek heat and not freshness as during the year they have more frosty days than hot ones. Russians warm themselves eating hot soups and Russian cuisine is really famous for these. The most popular ones are shchi and borscht. Shchi is a cabbage soup, and borscht is a beetroot one (this is why it is so red by color). Traditionally, Russians serve soups with sour cream and herbs that are added directly in the plate right before eating the soup.

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And now last but not the least. Cold and hot soups are not the only soups the Russians eat. They also have jellied soups. This is what they call kholodets (aspic), a rich meat-broth cooled to become a thick jelly. To make a kholodets you can take either beef, pork or chicken, though the most popular ingredients are pig’s ears, pig trotters or pork heads. Then add vegetables, herbs and spices. The meat-broth is poured into molds and put in a cool place to become a jelly. After several hours they put it on a dish and serve with horseradish or mustard sauce.

Traditionally, Russians serve soups with sour cream and finely chopped herbs that are added directly in the plate right before eating the soup.

Bless Forests and Frosts!

Another factor that shaped the Russian cuisine traditions (apart from the country’s history) is the country’s climate. Thus, in the major part of the country’s territory fruites and vegetables ripen rather late. This is why various pickles are so popular in Russia. They may pickle cucumbers, radish, cabbage, and mushrooms. This type of processing is perfect to ensure that your foodstuff survives the long winter season.

One can hardly conceive of Russian cuisine without wild harvest. Forests are a source of mushrooms, wild berries and nuts. Besides, it is also a source of honey, an irreplaceable ingredient for sweet stuff. Gingerbread, soft spice cookies, are not possible without honey. Sometimes, gingerbread is filled with jam. Big-size gingerbreads are decorated with ornaments that turn a confectionery into a nice-looking souvenir. Today, gingerbreads are often offered as gifts. No wonder that a country as large as Russia have different cuisine specialties in its different regions.

Russian gingerbread is not only a confectionery but also a souvenir often offered as gifts.

No wonder that a country as large as Russia have different cuisine specialties in its different regions. In the North they eat much venison and fish. In the South they cook steppe fowl, vegetables and fruits, and drink grape wine. The Russian cuisine in the north resembles the Scandinavian one, whereas in the south regions it was affected by the cuisine traditions of Turkey and Caucasian countries. All this is applicable to the Russian national cuisine. Besides, Russia is homeland for more than hundred nations each one having its own traditions! Though, it’s a totally different story.

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