My summer holiday in France mostly centred around yummy French food. Croissants for breakfast, baguettes and thousands of different cheeses (each one smellier and more delicious than the last) for lunch and anything with wine in the evening. I gorged myself on everything I could lay my hands on (guilt free as we all know that 'holiday calories' don't count - this doesn't work if your holiday goes on for over a month...) This food overload got me thinking about how when I go abroad I look forward to all the delicious food I can eat that we don't have back in England. When I go to Russia however, the food isn't really something I look forward to.
When I think of Russian food my first thought is: DILL OVERLOAD. It is no exaggeration when I say that Russians cover every kind of food in dill. Salads, chips, pizzas and soups are all finished off with a nice big handful of it. The first time I went to Russia, me and my friends ordered some chips in a cafe and were handed a plate covered in the green stuff. My friend took one look at it and said, 'mmmmm DILLicious'.
As a hater of beetroot and watery soup my relationship with Russian cuisine was doomed from the start. Borsch, one of the most popular dishes in Russia (although originally Ukrainian) is my idea of a nightmare. Fortunately my Russian mum Lyudmila happens to be The Best Cook In All Of Russia and her tasty food has saved not only my view of Russian cuisine but also my tastebuds.
I first met Lyudmila when I arrived in Petrozavodsk 3 years ago to do a Russian summer course. Knowing that I'd been travelling for 24 hours the first thing she did was to sit me down and feed me blini. Yummy blini covered in jam, sugar and honey... This began my love of blini and contributed to me buying way too many Teremok's on my year abroad. (Lyudmila's are the best though, obviously.)
When I left Petrozavodsk that year Lyudmila presented me with a huge Russian cake for me and my friends on the train back. Russian cakes differ from English ones in that rather than consisting of mainly sponge with a filling and topping, Russian cakes are like a bowl of cream with some biscuity type things stuck in at random. Cue a lot of mess on the train. Was well nice though.
A year and half later I returned to Petrozavodsk during the freezing winter. It was -30ºC outside so Lyudmila cooked up some lush winter warmers, my favourite of which was a meat soup called Solyanka. Although not a fan of watery soups I liked Solyanka because it's full of meat and veg making it a bit more filling! After trying it at Lyudmila's I ordered some in a restaurant; it was nice but I've never found anywhere that makes it as good as her!
This summer Lyudmila introduced me to another Russian dish - pirozhki. Pirozhki are like little pastries that can have savory or sweet fillings. We had cabbage ones that were really tasty - much better than a Greg's sausage roll.
So The Best Cook In All Of Russia has shown me the good non-dilly, non-beetrooty side of Russian cuisine. Although, (like all Russian mums) she does seem to think I am 3 people and I can never finish all the food she prepares! Still, too much food is never a bad thing!