No wonder so many Russians are overweight - Russian food deserves its separate chapter. There is a lot of things here I want to stay away from, tasty as they may be – pancakes, pies, different kinds of noodles, heavy sauces, sweets (I have to confess – halva and strudel I could not resist), cakes, and of course their ice-cream (rich and creamy, but not as sweet as in the US). Luckily for me (well, relatively lucky – my goal here was to lose weight, not to gain), there are a lot of yummy things here I eat with pleasure. Fish is on the top of the list. I go to the local farmers’ market where the vendors let me taste different kinds of smoked and salted fishes (pretty much like somewhat salty sushi quality raw fish) before I decide to purchase what I like. Then there are cheeses – at least twenty different varieties at each kiosk – and the same procedure applies. The tasting easily suffices for my lunch, and I bring home a bag full of goodies I can eat for the next couple of days. On the way home I stop to buy some home made pickles, fresh radishes, tomatoes, and cucumbers from street vendors on Lenin Street. In the morning I visit the same tables to get my snack – sweet fresh crop apricots, muddy strawberries (half the size compared to the ones you can get for $1.25 at Smith’s, but they actually taste like strawberries that ripened under the sun and were washed by the rain), and nectarines. The cherries are amazing too, but unfortunately almost as pricey as at home. I haven’t been using any spices besides salt and pepper (yes, I am amazed I am surviving without my daily dosage of garlic), but all this produce is so tasty by itself that spices would only spoil it.
And then there is the food that my host mom makes. It’s quite simple because apparently she doesn’t like cooking (or other housework), but amazingly tasty. My favorites so far:
- cabbage leaves cooked with rice and meat (I remove the stuffing and eat the cabbage, but together they are even more yummy)
- beet and pickle salad
- pea soup
- mushroom soup
- kasha with shredded carrots
I yet have to taste the borsch she makes – by far my Russian cuisine favorite.