Not the most favorable climate for agriculture and poor soils, nevertheless, as a reward for hard work, gave farmers cereals, vegetables and fruits, and endless pastures made it possible to keep livestock, providing them with enough food even in long, cold winters. Dense forests, clean rivers provided rich prey: berries and mushrooms, game and fish.
True, many Russian products and dishes are completely or partially forgotten now, but a considerable number of foreign ones have become relatives and friends. This process went on gradually, sometimes under pressure from the authorities, as well as fashion for European cuisine. At first, the upper strata of the population followed the new trends, and then they reached the ordinary citizens of the state.
It is difficult to revive the original Russian cuisine today, since it is based on a specific method of cooking – in a Russian oven. The products in the oven languished, steamed, baked for many hours, which was very convenient for housewives who went on business to the field or to the barn. True, an ordinary oven can also be turned into an analogue of an oven by overlaying it with oven bricks from above and below.
One of the features of Russian cuisine is a wide variety of Lenten dishes – a necessity in a country where, according to the Orthodox faith, it was forbidden to eat fast food for more than half a year. The simplicity of dishes is typical for Russian cuisine; mixing of products was not welcomed. The specifics of Russian cuisine is also reflected in kitchen utensils. For example, clay and later cast-iron pots felt great in the conditions of a long stay in a hot oven. For easy and safe extraction of pots, our ancestors invented tongs. For a long time, the only cutlery in Russia was a spoon; a fork was added to it only a few centuries later.
Soups or Khlebovo, later renamed into soups, have occupied a prominent place in Russian cuisine since ancient times. The most famous and still popular are cabbage soup, hodgepodge, okroshka and ear.
The housewives cooked cabbage soup all year round according to dozens of different recipes: with meat or fish, empty, lazy and daily, sour and green. Depending on the time of the year, cabbage soup was prepared from different ingredients – from fresh nettle, quinoa or sorrel, to turnip, fresh or sauerkraut. Sachi was served with flour dressing or sour cream.
The Russian menu offered a whole scattering of stews with pickles. Kalu with caviar, fish, poultry. The “liquid” hodgepodges of the hostess cooked them from everything that could be found in the house, just as the Italians cooked pizza. Numerous pickles are lean and modest with fish or meat. An obligatory component of all these stews is cucumber or cabbage pickle.
“Sachi and porridge are our food,” who does not know this old Russian proverb? Kashi was present at the tables of the poor and royalty seven days a week. Historians claim that even at the dinner in honor of the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, barley porridge was served.
For the preparation of cereals used barley, millet, wheat, buckwheat, rye, oats. For a change, these cereals were used both whole and pre-processed, for example, crushed, run-in – crumbly cereals were obtained from such cereals.
They ate ordinary and baked porridges, that is, with various fillers – eggs, milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, onions and vegetables. To improve the taste, oil was added to them during the cooking process. Kashi went as a side dish to stews or meat with poultry. Flatbreads were made from cereals and eaten with stews or served with tea.
Ritual porridge Katya was cooked from wheat or barley, to which honey, raisins, sometimes nuts or jam were added. Depending on the occasion, it could be Lenten Katya, which was prepared before Christmas, hungry – for the New Year’s table, rich served at Epiphany. Wake, too, could not do without this ritual porridge. Katya was supposed to be served with a kind of “sauce” – juicy, prepared on the basis of milk with the addition of poppy seeds, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Vegetable Russian table was generous and varied. Radishes, cucumbers, turnips, cabbages, beets were grown in the beds and fields, and later eggplants, zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes were added to them. Vegetable salads were not made in Russia, chopping food was not welcomed, vegetables were consumed fresh, boiled, baked, steamed, pickled and pickled. From vegetables, our ancestors also made sweets forgotten today. Carrots and even cucumbers were boiled in honey in a water bath, getting transparent, peculiar candied fruits.
For a long time, the main vegetable of Russia was turnip, which was present on the table every day – separately and in fillings for pies, and stuffed. The root crop of this plant not only satisfied hunger, but also treated many diseases, having anti-inflammatory, analgesic and diuretic properties.
It took a long time for the national favorite to lose its dominant position, giving it to potatoes. Thanks to the severe modernizer Peter I, this nightshade appeared in Russia at the end of the 17th century.