Russian food derives from the great geographical expanse of this country and its multicultural character, which has resulted in a great variety of dishes.
Given the characteristic cold climate of this region of the world, the country has a lot of delicious traditional dishes to help people keep warm.
People that discover Russian food for the first time, are often surprised by the variety of ingredients and flavors, which is influenced by its connection to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
So if you want to know a little more about Russian food because you’re planning a trip to the country, or you simply want to visit our authentic restaurant you’re in the right place!
1. One of the most popular dishes in the country is the Russian salad, only that in Russia it’s not called that: it’s known as Olivier salad and takes the name of the Belgian chef who invented it while working in Saint Petersburg.
2. Many dishes we consider today as typically Russian, are in reality of Polish, French or Italian origin. They arrived at the court of Catherine II through the empress’s contacts with Western Europe – a dreamed life, right?
3. Its gastronomic foundations are based on the peasant food of rural populations located in places with an extremely cold climate.
4. Many of the different dishes of soups and stews with meat and fish, are prepared by adding spices to native dishes using some techniques from the Mongols and Tatars in the 13th century.
5. Many of the dishes are influenced by the ancient silk road as well as the proximity to the Caucasus, as well as the proximity it had with the Ottoman Empire.
6. Russian food is very rich in variety, but also hyper caloric because more energy is needed to withstand the low temperatures they suffer in winter.
7. As the climate in Russia is almost always cold, most dishes are eaten hot. Soup is one of the main dishes and there are of many different types.
8. They also accompany most of the dishes with rye bread, which is even cheaper than wheat white bread.
9. Caviar is a specialty in Russia. There are two types: the red salmon caviar that we can order in any restaurant or food house, and black caviar, which you’ll only find in expensive restaurants.
10. In fact, for Russians at home, the most normal thing is to eat red caviar on a slice of white bread without toasting with butter. The black is reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas.
11. Did you know the word “caviar” comes from the Persian word “khavah” which means “egg”?
12. Russians don’t conceive a lunch without soup as a first course, and for dessert they usually have a sweet accompanied by black tea with lemon, which they drink every hour of the day!
13. Yep, you guessed it! The drink that most people drink in Russia is NOT vodka: it is tea!
14. And what about vodka? To take it, Russians have their own protocol: first of all, you must exhale through your mouth, then drink it in one gulp and then take a breath.
15. It’s said that Russians like to drink so much, that they even chose the Orthodox Christian religion (and not Islam) to be able to continue drinking their shots of vodka – although there is no historical evidence to confirm this.
16. And speaking about alcohol, up to 2011 beer was considered a food and not an alcoholic drink. In that year, former President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a law to change its category to try to reduce alcohol consumption in the country – these Russians know how to have a good time huh?
17. Russian food derives from an innumerable wealth of dishes, due firstly to the multicultural character of the country and secondly to its vast geographical size.
18. We previously said that black caviar (from sturgeon) is expensive, but there is another one that wins the award: Beluga caviar can cost up to $50,000 per kilo!
19. It’s said that during the Cold War era, Pepsi managed to introduce its drink into the Soviet Union. The only problem was that the ruble was not accepted as currency in the international market… So they chose to charge in Vodka!
20. As bread is so important in Russian food, there is the tradition to welcome important guests with a dish of “bread and salt”.
21. Although potatoes are a common ingredient of Russian food, for a long time Russian people only ate turnips, they didn’t know potatoes. King Peter brought the first potatoes from his foreign voyages, but Russians didn’t know how to eat it for some years.
22. During some time, Russian women were decorating their hairstyles with purple potato flowers, and some people even ate green berries (poisonous) instead of roots, which resulted in poisoning and even deaths.
23. Surprisingly, breakfast in Russian food usually consists of a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich with some butter, cheese or ham, or some bakery, just for simplicity.
24. The most traditional non-alcoholic drink is Kvas. By the way, due to the climate, soft drinks are usually served without ice, if you want it, order it separately.