About Russian Culinary Traditions, Russian Cuisine
Russian cuisine, which by the way is inseparable from Russian festivals, is perhaps, one of the most colorful in the world. Every gourmet reminded Russian can’t help remembering fragrant borshch with smetana (sour-cream), thin pancakes with red caviar, tempting pirogi, rasstegai and kulebyaka, pickled mushrooms and of course the crispy pickles ... Yummy! Each dish of Russian cuisine is a special masterpiece of culinary art. However, it was not always like this. The evolution of Russian cuisine was long and original. It has absorbed the best traditions of other peoples. Here's how it happened ...
History of Russian Cuisine
Modern Russian cuisine reached the peak of its evolution a little more than a hundred years ago, in the second half of the 19th century. Russian cuisine has undergone several stages.
Peculiarities of Russian Cuisine
Despite all the changes caused by foreign chefs the basics of Russian cuisine remained intact for centuries. It managed to preserve the most characteristic national features – the abundance of food on the table, diversity of starters, adherence to bread, blini (pancakes), kasha’s; originality of first liquid cold and hot meals, variety of fish and mushroom dishes, wide offer pickled vegetables and mushrooms as well as vast choice of sweet stuffs like jams, cookies, gingerbreads, cakes etc.
A traditional meal in Russia is composed of three dishes. The first – a meat soup with vegetables and grains (borsch, solyanka, or shchi), second - fish or meat with garnish (rice, buckwheat, potatoes, pasta, stewed cabbage), and the third – a beverage: compote, mors, kissel or juice.
The starters might be pancakes with caviar, herring “under fir coat”, pickles, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, salad of tomatoes and cucumbers with sour cream. There are also pies with cabbage, minced meat or potatoes. Bread at all times occupies the main space during the meal.
In the old days every meal took place at a certain time of day. The most strictly observed were lunch and dinner. The whole family gathered around the table, where everyone had his or her designated place. At the head of table sat the master of the house, he was the first to sit at the table followed by all other family members. In front of each family member there were a diner spoon and a piece of bread. Liquid hot dishes were usually served in a large bowl to be shared by the whole family. The owner of the house made that everyone ate a fair share of the meal.
Baked, boiled, roasted, fried food and main courses (meat, fish, etc.) were presented cut in pieces on a big platter. Pieces were taken by hands (before forks were introduced).
Plates were replaced with big pieces of bread. Guests put thick food, pieces of meat, fish, etc. on them and when meal was over such “bread plates” were normally eaten up.
The rules of conduct during meals were quite strict: it was a taboo to knock or scrape a spoon on the dishes, throw the remains of food on the floor, talk loudly, and laugh. Before sitting down everyone had to cross. All this once again confirms the respect and even awe that Russian people had in relation to their daily bread.
Russians have always been known for their exceptional hospitality. Even in ancient times a table was covered with a white tablecloth and put bread and salt on top. This meant that the hosts were happy to welcome guests.