Welcome to the world of Russian cuisine!
cookery is known the world over. On assimilating the best culinary traditions
of the ancient civilizations of the West and East, Russian cuisine has acquired
a distinctive character of its own. The original features and variety of cookery
in Russia are largely due to the rich natural gifts of its land - the abundance
of fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries and honey. Rye, wheat, barley and millet
grown in Russia were used for producing bread, different kinds of cereals, kvass,
beer and vodka. It is remarkable that many secrets of cookery were revealed
and preserved during the early periods of Russian history in monasteries. Orthodox
monks created many recipes which later became pride items in cookbooks. Suffice
it to mention such typical Russian special-ties as fish monastery style, suckling
pig roasted in dough, honey cakes and fruit liqueurs.
the middle of the fifteenth century, after the Orthodox Church had established
itself as the state religion, the mode of life of the Russian people, its daily
life and eating habits markedly changed. Fasting periods and festivals were
clearly fixed, a choice of meals in homes became more definitely specified.
The calendar was strictly divided into the days when meat, milk and eggs were
appropriate and the lenten fare when vegetable food prevailed in the diet.
severe Russian climate made the consumption of meat and other nourishing foodstuffs
with high calorie content necessary. The slaughter of livestock and poultry
for food was timed to coincide with the severe frosts of the Nativity and Epiphany
days. Traditional festive meals during the Nativity day included roast goose
or suckling pig and home-made pork sausages. The Russians' favorite drink on
festive occasions was vodka, a reliable protection from catching cold and good
for warming oneself on a frosty day. After abundant winter meals and before
Lent there came a short merry period of Cheese Fare when people were already
supposed to abstain from flesh, but cheese and milk products were still allowed.
According to the age-old tradition, during the Cheese Week it was customary
to bake blinis, or a sort of pancakes, served with butter, fish and caviar.
This brief period was followed by Lent which ended with the most popular Christian
holiday, Easter. The symbols of Easter were coloured eggs, Easter cake and paskha
(a sweet cream-cheese dish prepared in a special way). This spring festival
was also celebrated as the day of general love and mercy.
the eighteenth century Russian cuisine was enriched with achievements of Western
European culinary art. That period saw a vogue tor foreign, usually French,
cooks who were invited to the Imperial court, homes of aristocrats and were
employed at restaurants. It was then that the diet of the Russian kitchen began
to include dishes which later became traditional Russian specialties. These
are all sorts of broth, pates, sauces tormeat and fish dishes, and cakes. In
Moscow, nevertheless, distinctly Russian dishes still prevailed. They were usually
served in taverns, especially famous among them being the Yegorov Tavern which
won general renown for its savoury blinis and Moscow rasstegai, an open-topped
variety of pasty.
The best traditions of Russian cookery have been carefully retained to this day. A fine place to try dishes of Russian cuisine today is The Podvorie restaurant, a cosy nook where the cooking traditions of the olden days have been revived. The restaurant is located near the picturesque park of Pavlovsk in the world-famous suburbs of St Petersburg. Here, in a wooden Russian-style terem palace crowned with a tower which is perched by a golden fairy-tale cockerel you will find a warm welcome and will have a chance to savour the choicest, truly Russian dishes.