Inna gives us the lowdown on Russian food…
When you are thinking of a take away dinner, what cuisines come to your mind? Probably Italian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Mexican… but definitely not Russian! Why? Because we simply don’t know anything about it!
Winston Churchill described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, and indeed their cuisine is so unusual for the West. We, here at commonsensible.org, are about to reveal some of these mysteries, and make sure you check out the photos too.
The first thing to be said is that just like any other world cuisine, Russian cuisine is absolutely unique. And so healthy! Russians have been drinking kombucha (calling it simply “mushroom”) since the beginning of 19th century when it was acquired by them in war with Japan as a trophy. Every Russian kid’s babushka has a scoby in a big jar in the kitchen, covered with gauze and packed with healthy cultures that benefit every aspect of human physiology (it is also said to cure a hangover, which might be another reason for its popularity among Russians).
And no house there can be imagined without buckwheat of course – another current healthy food trend on the West. In communist times soviet nutritionists were working hard to build a healthy nation to achieve idealistic communist goals, and you needed truly nutritious food to feed a proletariat on builds and fields and to provide them with stamina to work all day and vitamins to stay healthy in cold climate – buckwheat was an answer to both problems. It has low glycemic index which means that it will be giving you energy gradually for hours, lots of fiber to replace vegetables in winter and all the vital nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and folic acid. It even has titanium! But most importantly, it has enough protein to replace meat (which was important when you needed to feed a lot of people for cheap) and iron to bring oxygen to your cells. Mothers at home would cook it, adding milk to it to make it more appealing for children, or mash it and make small buckwheat cakes by adding eggs, onion and garlic to it and just frying it on the pan. Another way to cook buckwheat is to just soak it overnight, adding some salt to it to make some valuable nutrients in it better digestible.
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It is also very common in Russia to have allotments – growing their own food is a part of the culture that came from a necessity (and it still is a great help for many people) when there was simply no food in shops and markets. That and severe winters make people grow as much fruits, vegetables and berries as they can during summer and pickle and preserve it for winter. That is how Russian compote was created: unlike the original French compote which is a desert, the Russian one is actually a drink, made in bigpots by boiling dried apricots, pears apples and various berries with sugar and served chilled in a jug like American lemonade.
Other favourites are dried, smoked and pickled fish, fish eggs, eggs, breads, salads, pickles and so much more. Check out our photos below for some inspiration!
In them you can see the results of this delicious recipe, Crab salad:
Cucumber, chopped Crab, cooked and cleaned Egg, hard boiled and chopped Dill, a generous serving, chopped Onion, chopped Corn, tinned is fine Sour cream (or Mayonaise) Rice (optional)
Dalat photos: Click on the arrows to scroll, or on the image for a larger version (in a pop-up)
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