I'm sure you've been dying to know what the heck we have been eating over here. Blog post to the rescue!
Eating in Russia is verrrry different for us than eating in the States. In some ways, much better; in other ways, a little worse--and in all ways, a lot different. It has definitely been an adjustment. There are a lot of American ingredients that Russians just don't have, or that aren't the same. Take cream of chicken soup, for example. An American staple, but in Russia? Non-existent. Same thing goes for sour cream, cheddar cheese, syrup, tortillas, peanut butter (actually, you CAN find that in some places now), deli meat, cold cereal, and on and on. It's definitely been a challenge, that's for sure.
So what DO we eat? Let's start with breakfast.
At home (in Tennessee), Tim and I eat cold cereal for breakfast. Sometimes oatmeal or cream of wheat, sometimes fried eggs with toast, but mostly cereal.
Traditional Russian breakfast is very different. Usually, you eat some fruit, bread with cheese and meat, and maybe porridge of some sort. It's kind of like a smorgasbord of different meats, cheeses, bread, and fruit, and you just eat a little bit of everything. Oh, and you always have tea. And sometimes juice.
That's how they do it at a real Russian's house, but Tim and I do it a little differently. Usually, we eat гречка (gretchka) with eggs and toast and some yummy juice. They have the BEST juice over here.
What is gretchka, you ask?
It's buckwheat. You boil it, kind of like rice, until it soaks up all the water. Then you eat it with butter and salt. It took me a while to get used to, but it is REALLY good with eggs and toast. And, bonus, it's a great replacement for hash browns and it has a crapload of nutrients.
I like Russian breakfast so much better. It seems to stick to your ribs more, and instead of just pumping yourself full of sugary nothingness cereal at the start of your day, you eat something fresh that is actually good for you and full of protein.
When Tim started getting sick of gretchka, we had to diversify.
Enter French Toast With Plum Syrup.
They definitely do not sell maple syrup or syrup of any kind over here, so I made some plum syrup. It was great, because I was able to use up some plums that were about to go bad, and make some yummy syrup for french toast. I remember watching my Aunt Becky make batches and batches of delicious plum syrup, so I knew exactly how to do it. (Thanks, Aunt Becky!!)
And holy crap it is delicious. SUPER delicious.
Sometimes we also eat hot cereal:
With strawberries and cream. Duh.
Tim is pretty sure this is ground up buckwheat, but we don't really know, actually.
Also, we used to eat oatmeal but we kept finding little rocks (!!!) and oat husks in it. We'll stick with ground buckwheat, thanks.
What about lunch, you ask?
Usually, Tim eats lunch at work. What do I eat at home?
You guys, seriously, I have been living off of tomato sandwiches. LIVING OFF OF THEM, I say.
I'm pretty sure I could eat them forever. What Russians lack in American groceries they make up for in their mayonnaise. Russians loooooove their mayo.
Here's a recipe for the best tomato sandwich in the world:
Two pieces of bread, toasted and mayonnaised < ----- (that is a word I just made up.)
Fresh Russian tomato (I realize this may be hard to procure--maybe you should come visit me....just saying.)
Salt and pepper.
That plus that and that = HEAVEN.
Heaven, I tell you.
One of the things I am enjoying most over here (which you've already heard lots and lots and LOTS about) is their great produce. That is probably my favorite. I've realized that one of the biggest reasons I don't eat a lot of fruit or vegetables in the States is because they just don't taste good. The tomatoes aren't red and juicy, they're dry and pink. They're just unappetizing, especially when you've tasted garden-fresh produce.
I remember many times in my youth, raiding my Aunt Becky's and Aunt Ruth's garden with my cousins. Looking back now, they must've thought we were such pests--we ate so much out of the garden! We would pick sweet peas right off the vine, or pick a juicy tomato and make tomato sandwiches, or Aunt Ruth would pick a zucchini, bread it and fry it, and dip it in ranch. Soooo good.
Anyway, my point is, I'm used to produce that tastes good on its own--and Russia has that in spades.
Now, on to dinner.
In America, I feel like our dinners are pretty diversified. We do casseroles, soups, Mexican food, calzones, pizza, chicken and rice, chili, etc.
Over here, we pretty much make two or three variants of a couple dishes. They're good, but man I am looking forward to some Mexican food when I get back.
Typical dinner: mashed potatoes or rice with zucchini and кутлети (cutleti). Cutleti is--well, imagine a meatball, hamburger patty, and meatloaf combined. It's basically a frozen little patty of meat that you fry up and serve. They are pretty good.
We've also had soups--chicken noodle soup (which was really good) and beef and barley soup (which was just okay).
We've also managed to make spaghetti, although I had to make my own spaghetti sauce from tomato paste, onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices. They have spaghetti sauce over here, but it is really sweet and doesn't taste very good.
And then there's dessert.
We cannot forget dessert.
Sometimes, we just eat fruit. Most of it is imported from neighboring countries, like these cherries from Azerbaijan.
And who can forget their beautiful strawberries. They only bad thing is that they go bad very quickly. You have to buy them and eat them in the next couple days. Very different than American produce.
And, of course, the bliss that is pyshky.
Russians love their tea. They usually sweeten it with honey or jam, but I've always preferred sugar and cream.
We drink tea in the evenings, before going to bed.
And this, my friends, is a picture of me trying Medovik for the first time.
Medovik is honey cake. It's kind of like soft layers of graham-crackery cake with creamy honey frosting in between each layer.
It is so good.
Most Russian pastries and cakes are really not that good, which makes medovik even more awesome. We eat it plain, but love it most with some vanilla ice cream.
And that, dear reader, is what we eat over here.
Oh, and we haven't eaten and borsh yet. Anything other than Marina's borsh is an utter disapointment. But trust me, when we go to St. Petersburg to visit, we will eat borsh until our bellies burst.