Saint-Petersburg Cuisine, History of Russian Cuisine
The peculiarity of St. Petersburg cuisine can be explained primarily by the city’s capital status and its proximity to Europe. Through the “Window on Europe” cut by Peter I Russia imported French, German, Dutch and Italian dishes.
Among those were all possible chopped chunks of meat (lamb and pork) with bones, natural beefsteaks, escalopes and entrecotes. Foreign, mostly French, chefs widely used potatoes, brought to Russia in 1770s, and tomatoes (19th century) for side dishes. They gave us sausages, omelets and compotes unconceivable earlier. In the 18th century the German way of serving (open sandwich) prevailed. Later the French started arrange servings on a special table, giving each dish a special look. Finally, the French introduced food mixes such as salads, mixed garnishes which had been unseen by Russians before.
The French expanded the assortment of starters to such an extent by adding to their lot a number of old Russian meat, fish, mushroom and sour vegetable dishes that the abundance and variety of Russian starters is still a shock for foreigners.