Russian Cuisine

Russian Cuisine
Let them eat cake.
So said Marie Antoinette, Queen of​ France, upon being told that the​ peasants were rioting in​ the​ streets because they had no bread .​
It has been cited for​ over two centuries as​ an​ indictment of​ the​ arrogance of​ the​ aristocracy – but in​ reality, the​ young queen may simply not have understood why, lacking bread, a​ person would not turn to​ cake .​
Such was the​ separation between the​ tables of​ the​ privileged and​ those of​ the​ poor.
Nowhere was that separation so evident, though, than it​ was in​ Russia of​ the​ last century .​
While the​ wealthy dined on caviar, pheasants, creamed chicken and​ ice cream, the​ peasants developed their own cuisine that is​ unequalled for​ its versatility and​ variety in​ the​ face of​ the​ resources at​ hand .​
When Russian cuisine first moved beyond its own borders, it​ was the​ dishes of​ the​ royal table that defined the​ food of​ the​ nation .​
But it​ is​ the​ so-called peasant cuisine that is​ the​ true heart of​ the​ nation.
There is​ no other nation or​ region in​ the​ world that makes so much of​ soup .​
Russian regional cuisine features at​ least seven broad categories of​ soups, based on ingredients and​ regions .​
From thin vegetable broths flavored with herbs, to​ thick, hearty stews rich with meat and​ vegetables, soup is​ a​ mainstay of​ Russian cuisine .​
In many homes, a​ pot of​ shchi stood on the​ back burner of​ the​ stove, simmering throughout the​ day .​
Although it​ is​ technically ‘cabbage soup’, the​ method of​ cooking gives shchi a​ flavor that is​ indescribable, but unmistakable .​
In poorer households, shchi might have no ingredients other than cabbage and​ onions, simmered on the​ stove and​ then placed in​ the​ oven to​ ‘draw’ the​ flavors .​
a​ more fortunate household might add anything from beans to​ sausage to​ fish to​ vegetables, to​ make a​ savory, soured soup that sticks to​ the​ ribs and​ wakes the​ taste buds.
Bread is​ another staple of​ Russian regional cuisine, and​ there’s nothing in​ the​ world to​ compare to​ Russian black rye bread .​
Heavy and​ meaty, with a​ characteristic ‘sour’ taste, Russian rye bread is​ nearly hearty enough to​ be a​ meal in​ and​ of​ itself .​
It’s the​ perfect bread to​ offset salted meats, pickled cabbage and​ sauerkraut .​
Toasted and​ slathered with butter, it’s the​ perfect breakfast to​ start a​ day off well, and​ dipped in​ soup, it​ adds texture and​ flavor to​ anything from the​ thinnest broth to​ the​ thick, hearty stews of​ the​ northern steppes.
It’s impossible to​ speak of​ Russian cuisine without mention of​ borscht .​
Another soup, this one based on red beets, it​ is​ served in​ many ways throughout Russia .​
In the​ Ukraine, for​ instance, borscht often is​ made with tomatoes, and​ has pork and​ sausage added as​ well as​ beef .​
In Kiev, borscht is​ often served with sour cream and​ a​ sprinkling of​ caraway seeds .​
Each region has its own version, and​ each is​ fiercely proud and​ protective of​ it.
Russian cuisine, like Chinese and​ US and​ European regional cuisine, is​ in​ reality a​ cornucopia of​ styles and​ recipes, with a​ dish in​ Chechnya bearing little resemblance to​ the​ same dish in​ Leningrad .​
It is​ wonderful, varied and​ hearty fare – fit for​ more than the​ tables of​ kings .​
It is​ fit for​ the​ tables of​ the​ people.

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