We already described a festive Russian meal. Now it is time to talk about a typical daily eating habits. That does vary by region, so I will be writing about urban working population of Moscow. Check out whether your eating habits are similar to the eating habits of Russians!
Although Russians also believe that eating a full breakfast is a good habit, many people skip breakfast. In winter night is long, so most people wake up to go to work when it is still dark and there is always a temptation to snooze. As a result, some people opt for additional minutes of sleep and just have a cup of coffee or tea as they hurry to get to work on time.
Russia is traditionally a tea drinking country. During Soviet Union time most people were choosing black tea as their preferred hot beverage for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tea was usually consumed with two tea spoons of sugar and lemon. Some people preferred to add milk to their tea instead of lemon. However, even at that time, there were some coffee lovers, who could not imagine a morning without a cup of coffee. At that time it was usually a Turkish style coffee. Later, multinational FMCG companies brought instant coffee to the market and spent large marketing budgets to introduce it. Now most people drink coffee for breakfast and even though consumption of instant coffee is still high, more and more people have coffee machines, french presses and other equipment to prepare the perfect cup of morning coffee. Most people drink coffee with milk and sugar.
And most people do eat breakfast. Typical fast breakfast is a pair of sandwiches with cheese or sausage (kolbasa). Russian sandwiches differ from US sandwiches a lot – it is usually a slice of bread, often some butter and a slice or two of cheese or sausage as seen in my post about Russian iconic “doctor” sausage.
If you have a bit more time you can cook eggs, porridge, pancakes or cheese dumplings, called “syrniki”. We almost never eat scrambled eggs – typically that would be sunny side-up eggs or easy over eggs. Sometimes that could be an omelette. Ingredients to add are: kolbasa (the sausage), tomatoes and bell pepper.
Porridge does not necessarily mean oatmeal. It could be oatmeal, but it could also be cream o’wheat (semolina) or rice or buckwheat, usually cooked with milk. Cream o’wheat is the most controversial – kids usually hate it, because there could be clumps inside. My sister prepared the best cream o’wheat for me when I was little – she made it really thick, as a pudding and made it jelly in a form of a pudding. Then she poured home-made raspberry jam over. That was tasty (and the only way one could feed semolina to me). Most kids do not like porridge and prefer pancakes.
Preparing pancakes for breakfast does take more time, so for most people that treat is reserved for weekends. On any occasion pancakes are typically eaten with jam or sweet condensed milk or honey or sour cream. A good life hack is to prepare pancakes with fillings (typically meat or cottage cheese, sometimes cabbage) in advance and just re-heat them in the morning. Pancakes with minced meat with sour cream on top make a perfect breakfast for any Russian! (we do eat a lot of sour cream!)
Another popular and relatively fast to make breakfast treat is “syrniki” (cottage cheese dumplings). Easy to make (cottage cheese, an egg, some flour and salt/sugar to taste) – they make a perfect and tasty breakfast, more nutritious and high on protein than pancakes. Needless to say – we eat them with either jam or sour cream or both.
You can find a great recipe of syrniki here.
Cereals and muesli are not as popular, although in the last 10-20 years advertising budgets of multinational companies have made them a breakfast option as well. Juices also have not been part of breakfast routine before (mainly because there were no juices in stores), but now are becoming more popular. Pastries have always been a popular and fast, although not the most healthy breakfast option.
Of course, this kind of breakfast is more typical for somebody, who works in the office, rather than has a day of physical activity ahead. And now, quite often, people go out to have a breakfast and have early breakfast meetings before work. People, who have to work in the field or in a mine eat much more substantial breakfast, which could include meat and potatoes. But for a typical urban office worker, breakfast is a small meal.
Stay tuned to learn what a person, who lives in Moscow eats for lunch on a typical day!
© 2016 Tatiana Golubeva. All rights reserved.