Russian cuisine is famous for its meat dishes, ukha (fish soup), shchi (cabbage soup), Borscht (beet soup), pokhlebka (thick broth), okroshka (cold vegetable soup), bliny (pancakes) with sour cream or caviar, cabbage pie, and beef a la Stroganoff. Siberia is known for its pelmeni (dumplings boiled in broth) which are enjoyed all over Russia. Russian cuisine is noted for its abundance of appetizers, soups and other dishes in which the main ingredient is spiced, pickled or cured.
The main meal for Russians usually consists of soup, perhaps a salad and a main meat/vegetable dish. A Russian salad is a mixture of vegetables and mayonnaise similar to what is known as cole slaw in the US. Sausage, bread, soups, plenty of potatoes and dairy products will be served when fresh vegetables or fruits are not available during winter and early spring.
No dinner without bread, goes the Russian saying. Wheat loaves have dozens of varieties. As to rye bread, Russians eat more of it than any nation in the world--a peculiarity of the Russian diet.
As the Russian custom has it, a festive table isnt worth this name without a bottle of vodka. Russians are traditionally hearty drinkers: as good whiskey shall come from Scotland, and port from Portugal, so Russian wheat vodka is the worlds best. There is a large variety to offer, from the clear, colorless Moskovskaya and Stolichnaya to all kinds of bitters with herbs and spices.
After dinner it is customary to enjoy hot tea. Russians drink a lot of tea usually with sugar and sometimes lemon. It is customary to eat something sweet with tea, such as biscuits, cake, jam (eaten with a spoon) or candies..
Russian women prefer to cook meals with fresh ingredients. Convenient packaged and frozen foods are not typically used however some women will pickle, spice, dry or cure fruits, vegetables, berries, mushrooms and meat when they are affordable for use during times when they are not in season. Chemical preservatives and additives are frowned upon in Russian society so manufactures may not include them. Indeed a list of ingredients for packaged or prepared Russian foods available for purchase will seem simple in comparison to its western counterpart. This is consistent with the practice that food is usually consumed long before it would spoil so adding preservatives to extend the shelf life may be unnecessary.
Russian women will usually buy the food needed for the family meals. Meats, cheeses, eggs, fruits, vegetables and breads are usually purchased fresh. It is customary to purchase food on the way home from work for meals for the next day or two. Food stores and markets are usually most busy at this time. Purchasing smaller quantities of food more frequently is inspired by the preference for freshness and necessitated by the small storage areas in the kitchen and the lack of personal transportation which requires the food purchase to be carried home by hand. This is very different when compared to the typical American practice of loading up the car with a week or twos worth of groceries.
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