Saint-Petersburg cuisine, History of Russian cuisine

The main feature of traditional Petersburg cuisine has to do with the location of the old capital, closer to Europe. Saint Petersburg was Russia’s “window to Europe”, and through this window, foods from France, Germany, Holland, and Italy arrived in Russia. New cuts of meats, including cuts on bones and steaks, were made from beef and pork. French chefs started using potatoes as side dishes in the 1770s, and tomatoes became popular in the 19th century. Patties of ground meat (kotlety), sausages, omelettes, and fruit juices (kompot). While in the 18th century, serving appetizers as open sandwiches (in the German style) was popular, by the 19th, Russians were serving beautifully-plated appetizers on special plates. The final contribution made by the French were more complex dishes, such as vinaigrette (a salad with beetroot and pickles) and garnishes that previously didn’t exist in Russian cuisine.

All in all, the French made a huge impact on Russian tables. So many meat, fish, mushroom and pickled dishes are on the table (in large part due to the culinary influence of the French) that many visitors in Russia are surprised by the variety of appetizers and dishes available.