Generally, Russian people have three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In Russia, it doesn’t take much time to cook breakfast or to eat it. As a matter of fact, Russians aren’t used to eating a lot in the morning. An average breakfast consists of an omelet, sandwiches, corn flakes or something like that. However, there are traditional Russian dishes which they eat at breakfast. For example, they love Syrniki. Syrniki are made of dough that contains a lot of cottage cheese; then they are fried on the frying-pan. They are usually served with sour cream and sugar. Another famous Russian food for breakfast are blinis and flippers. Blinis are much like English pancakes. In Russia, they are served with butter, sugar, and sometimes honey. Flippers are very thin blinis. Surely, they are made of the other dough. The thinnest flippers are also the most delicious ones. What is more, there are flippers with sweet stuff; they are called blintzes. There’s a huge variety of different stuff. These are, for example, blintzes with cottage cheese, meat or preserve.
The preserve is a homemade dessert. It looks like confiture or jam, but unlike them, it is liquid and contains whole berries or pieces of fruit. Russians make preserve from berries and fruits grown in their own garden or collected in the woods. In most cases, the body, taste, and recipe depend on the skills and preferences of the mistress. If you’re offered to have a taste of grandma or mom’s preserve and blintzi, just give yourself a treat!
If you find yourself in Russia during the Maslenitsa, you’ll get the chance to taste various types of blintzi as they are considered to be the piece de resistance of the festivity. Have a taste of blintzi with caviar; it’s the most luxurious version of this dish. Russians really love caviar and usually serve it up at holidays.
Pastila is another example of traditional Russian sweets that is known since the XIV century. It is similar in shape and body to a marshmallow, but it has its own unique taste. Originally, pastila was made of Antonovka apples that grew only in Russia. At the end of the XIX century, this exclusive dessert was exported to Europe. Hereafter, they started making pastila of other varieties of apples and berries. Later on, honey and sugar became the most important ingredient of pastila. Before the Russian Revolution, Kolomna, Rzhevskaya, and Belevskaya (flaky) pastila were much sought after. In our days, in Kolomna and Belyov, cooks still use ancient recipes to make it. One can buy any kind of pastila in Russian shops.
But let’s get back to Russian breakfast. Porridge is another traditional Russian dish for breakfast. It’s a more common dish than syrniky or blintzi, because it’s much easier to cook. The most popular porridges are made of oats and different grains. More often than not, Russians drink tea during breakfast.
Lunch consists of several courses. Since the Soviet period, they have been called the soup course, the main course, and the third course. It is logical to assume that the soup course consists of the soup. The main course includes meat and garnish. The third course is a drink served for lunch. It’s usually tea, coffee, juice or compote. Sometimes the third course also includes a dessert. The official lunch time is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. But when a person’s at home, lunchtime can take place at 3 or 4 o’clock.
When the time for dinner comes, the whole family gets together, having the nicest meal of the day. Dinner usually starts at about seven o’clock in the evening and can last for several hours. The family members often discuss the past events of the day and share their impressions with each other. The guests are often invited for dinner. It’s a great opportunity to learn something about Russian cuisine during dinner.
So what do Russians eat? Shchi (Russian vegetable soup) is the most popular Russian dish. It is a soup made from meat, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. If you add some sour cream to it, it will get a delicate taste. That’s what helps Russians to warm themselves during cold winters. If you haven’t heard of it, you have definitely heard of borshch. Actually, borshch is a soup with beetroot. This is the main difference between these soups. Borshch is considered to be a dish of Ukrainian cuisine.
Russians also have a traditional salad. Ask any Russian, what kind of salad it is and he will instantly say, “The Olivier salad!” There’s no holiday without the Olivier salad. It’s a tradition itself. Abroad, it is sometimes called the Russian salad. The name “Olivier” comes from France. Curious to relate, Russians believe that this salad was brought to Russia by a Frenchman named Olivier. No one knows whether it’s true or not. In addition to it, Olivier certainly has nothing to do with French cuisine. It is made of boiled chicken, potatoes, carrots, canned peas, pickled cucumbers, onion, and mayonnaise. Seems like a bit strange mixture of ingredients. However, if you try it you’ll see that it’s really delicious.
Russians often cook vinaigrette, a beetroot salad. This salad appeared in Russian cuisine in the XIX century. It is made of boiled beets, potatoes, beans, carrots, pickled cucumbers, and onions. It is usually dressed with sunflower oil. Mostly, it looks like a “dry” borshch.
They say that the jellied meat was invented by Russians. It takes time to boil it, which is the reason for some mistresses to refuse from cooking it. Well, the devil is not as black as it is painted. All it takes is to try to cook it once. And then you’ll want to make it your family tradition.
Jellied meat is always boiled in large pots or even buckets. It is poured into forms (more often with lids) that are not very high. One should prepare them in advance. Then the whole cooking process will be surprisingly easy and comfortable.
There’s a huge variety of recipes, so the ingredients may differ. However, if one is thinking of making a jellied meat, he or she has to also add pig’s feet and ears, head and lips as, in this case, no gelatin should be added. If one adds gelatin to it, it can’t be called the jellied meat anymore. The name of this dish is Aspic.
If you thought that it’s weird to mix such incongruous ingredients, you’ll be surprised to find out about the other Russian dish called Okroshka. The word “okroshka” derives from the verb “kroshit’’, which is translated to English as “to crush, to cut”. The name of the dish speaks for itself as all the ingredients are cut and then mixed together.
The kvass is the basis of the meal. Kvass itself is considered to be a Russia-specific drink. You may find light and dark kvass; it depends on which part of the country you are in. If you liked the light kvass, it doesn’t mean you will like the dark kvass as they taste absolutely differently. Just add boiled meat, eggs, greens, cucumbers, and radishes to it, and… Presto! The soup is ready. In the end, you will get a delicious cold soup which is considered to be a favourite dish of many Russians, especially in summer. However, okroshka has a very specific taste, so not every foreigner will like it.
Aside from soups, there are lots of other delicious dishes in Russia. Among them are vareniki and pelmeni (ravioli).
Russian cabbage rolls are the rolls of cabbage stuffed with pork or beef mince, rice, onion, carrots, and garlic and then stewed in a tomato-cream sauce. Russians cook this dish both for holidays and daily.
Russian vareniki is not an everyday dish like Russian pelmeni but these are very similar. Both of them are small white buns (about the size of a coin) made of flour dough. It’s quite simple to distinguish them. They add meat to pelmeni, and cottage cheese, potatoes, and preserve – to vareniki. Pelmeni are eaten with mayonnaise or butter, and vareniki are eaten with sour cream. In Russia, pelmeni can be bought in a shop, but the homemade pelmeni are much tastier. Russians often make homemade pelmeni for holidays. The taste of homemade pelmeni differs from the taste of store-bought.
Vareniki are also not an everyday dish. Russians believe that they should be only homemade. Cooking of vareniki takes too much time, so it’s an unusual but at the same time a traditional dish for a Russian. Russians eat them when they come to their mothers and grandmothers or when they want to feel closer to the nation. Just have a taste of vareniki among Russians and you’ll feel this magic.
Russians also love eating bread. They eat it along with any dish. In Russia, both light and dark bread are made. The color of the bread depends on the kind of flour used. In the past, bread was baked in the ovens. Such bread has a wonderful taste and, surely, cannot be compared with store-bought bread. Unfortunately, now fewer people bake homemade bread. However, some senior citizens maintain the tradition and bake bread themselves.
Tea and vodka are two favourite drinks of Russians. Maybe it happens due to the fact that the Russian climate is quite harsh. But if it’s warm, Russians prefer kvass and compote.
Well, well, well… Hungry? Then come to Russia as soon as possible! Don’t forget to tell your companions to have a nice meal. Here it is considered to be the sign of good manners.