Russia: Russian Food and Cuisine

One of the best parts of traveling internationally is the great opportunity to try out new dishes. Depending on the country, some of these dishes are quite unique, while other dishes can be downright weird! Sometimes you may feel like Andrew Zimmern going out on his Bizarre Food tours. In our family, we are adventurers and we try out new, and sometimes even strange dishes everywhere we go. Russia is no exception.

Typical Russian Cuisine

Overall, Russian dishes are not very strange, but yes, if you look hard enough you can find some food that some people may consider strange. Typical Russian Food includes a lot of potatoes, vegetables (especially beets), salads, a lot of soups, lots of fish, sausages, pretty much all meats, and desserts.

Borsch

are Borsch, which is a vegetable beet soup. Notice how red the broth is from the beets. Apparently there are as many Borsch recipes are there are people in Russia, so there really is no right or wrong way to go about this. It is a perfect for cold weather and especially good if you have a cold. In my opinion, this dish would fall under the category Russian Comfort Food.

Pelmeni

Pelmeni is described by many as Russian Raviolis. In my opinion, they are very different from Raviolis in their flavor, but the one thing the two have in common is that it’s dough filled with food that is boiled. Pelmini is usually filled with either ground meat or mash potato. This food is high in carbs, so it is a good winter food that will keep you warm and energized.

Piroshki

Piroshki is somewhat similar to pelmeni. It’s food wrapped in dough, except they are larger and they are fried in oil (usually sunflower oil) until browned on both sides. They are filled with ground meat, mashed potato, cabbage, or jam for dessert piroshki. I have heard of other fillings beside what is listed above. These are very high in carbs, and a little bit greasier since they are fried, but they are one of my favorite dishes. Sometimes it is made into a pie where a lay of dough is spread across a baking pan, the filling is added, then it is topped with dough and baked in the oven.  This is called pierogi.

Selyodka Pod Shuboy

This dish is one of my favorite, and for some it does fall somewhat under the “weird food” category and some from outside of Russia don’t like it at all, but in my family, we love it! It’s a salad of beets, vegetables, mayonnaise, hard-boiled egg, but then there is a surprise lurking near the bottom of this salad; pickled herring fish. This fish is extremely fishy and salty tasting, which is what scares away the Non-Russian, but if you ask me, I love it. I love how the sweetness of the beets is offset by the fishiness and saltiness of the herring fish. I could eat this dish all day long.

The four dishes above are just a few of many Russian dishes, but they are some of the most common. When we had our family reunion with my wife’s family in Russia, they had a huge spread of different Russian dishes across the table. it was great to fill up my plate with a little bit of everything.

Weird Food in Russia

During my time in Russia, I went out of my way to try out some food that some may consider to be strange. To most Russians, this food in completely normal and most Russian people have no problem eating it, but to an American like myself, it is considered different for sure.

Kholodets

Kholodets, also known as Russian Meat Jelly, is pretty much that, meat jelly, or in my opinion it resembles jello. The word Kholodets comes of the root word Kholod, which means “cold”. Kholodets is eaten cold and it is a common dish eaten primarily during winter holidays, but can be eaten any time of year.

I’ve eaten a lot of Russian food over the years, but during this trip to Russia, I was able to try out kholodets for the first time. Many from outside of Russia consider this food to be rather disgusting, but anyone who knows me well, knows that I typically love unusual foods. This dish is no different.

It has a very meaty and strong pork flavor, so the taste is delicious, but at the same time it has the texture of jello with chunks of meat in it. It almost tastes like pork bullion in jello form. It’s bouncy, gelatinous, it just melts in your mouth.

It is recommended to be eaten with Russian spicy mustard or horseradish.

Ikra

Now, I can already hear Russian people correcting me on this saying that Ikra is not weird at all, and I agree with you. I think Ikra is delicious, but there are those from outside of Russia would disagree with you and I. Basically it’s squash and vegetables in puree form. Russians like to spread it in bread, especially Rye bread and eat it. it tastes as it’s described, like vegetable puree. It’s not my favorite Russian food, but I will certainly snack on it if it’s in front of me.

Tomato Ice Cream

Okay, this is not really Russian, I am sure if you look hard enough, you can find this anywhere, but hey, I ate it in Russia, so I will document it here. I tried this in Chebarkul at a snack stand by the lake where we stayed for 3 days. I was really hoping this would taste better, but it was basically frozen cream of tomato soup on a cone. It was not good and I was glad when I finished it. Yeck!

 

Desserts

There are many types of desserts in Russia, below is a photo from a famous dessert place in Saint Petersburg just to show you a sample of what is available.

There are also many different types of cakes, two of my favorite are Napolean Cake, and Honey Cake:

Ice cream in Russia

Ice cream in Russia and pretty much all of Eastern Europe and Western Europe is far superior to ice cream in America, and the secret is in the milk they use. Milk in these areas is flash-pasteurized, so the milk still retains some of it’s “good bacteria” and still has somewhat of a sour taste, kind of like buttermilk. Add some sugar to that, and with how the sugar and milk offset each other, you have a very delicious ice cream.

As you can see, you can have quite the culinary adventure in Russia, from the mainstream to the strange, and to even the sweet.

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