Although I would love to travel the world, it is not feasible! So instead, I will do like the Russians, put on an "Ushanka", and pretend to go across the world through food, art, and pictures! When I think of Russia, these are the things that first come to mind: Tchaikovsky, ballet, those sweet "Russian nesting dolls", Borshch, winter, St. Basil's Cathedral, Elton John's "Nikita" song (from his 1985 album "Ice on Fire"), the "Cold War", Peter Carl Faberge (famous jewelry artist- "Faberge eggs"), and the incredibly haunting mystery surrounding the last Russian Tsar's, (Nicholas II), daughter Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, and whether or not she survived the horrific execution of the entire family in 1918. (I'm pretty sure they solved this mystery with today's DNA forensic testing though!)
It's interesting to note that Russia happens to be the largest country in the world, and has a varied climate; from the cold harshness of northern Siberia, to the southern "Mediterranean"- like climate of Sochi!
The cuisine of Russians is quite diverse as well- largely dependent on what part of the country you live, religion, the influences of the bordering countries, foods grown/available etc.
The majority of the country, however, does have a climate similar to that of Canada, thus resulting in shorter and cooler growing seasons. Traditionally, they "pickle" many things to keep through the winters, (not just your typical cucumbers!), and can as well. They are not able to enjoy much of the all-year round fresh produce that Americans are accustomed to, so their diets consist of higher amounts of eggs, bread, meats, cheese, etc.
Regardless of where you are in Russia, they are quite serious about their Vodkas, and tea! You won't find Russians drinking much alcoholic products besides Vodka and beer, and they also happen to be the top "Vodka" distillers in the world! (Although Poland may argue that point, as they have been known for their Vodkas as well!)
"Vodka bez piva dengy na veter", ("beer with out vodka is money to the wind", as the Russians say!)
They primarily drink black teas from India and China, but are beginning to integrate some green teas as well. They are most noted for their "Russian Caravan" variety! (A blend of oolong, keemun, and lapsang souchong Chinese teas.)
The items most likely to be found in many dishes are: most root vegetables, mushrooms, cabbage, farmer's cheese (tvorog), and LOT'S of sour cream (smetana)!
Most notable Russian foods/ dishes:
Golubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls)
Pirozhki (meat, cheese, potato filled yeast rolls)
Bliny (little pancakes)
Shchi (cabbage soup)
Zakuski ("cold table" or hors d' oeuvres)
Rugelach (a cresent rolled pastry with a variety of fillings)
And many more!!
Many traditional dishes in Russia are very similar to that of other European countries as well, and have been passed down for MANY generations!! If your feeling adventurous, I urge you to try some of the recipes I will be posting in the next week, or so. Or, you can go online, and look for something specific you would like to try. There are some great blogs and websites on Russian foods!