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Tag: russia

Eastern European Edibles

Thinking about the food of Eastern Europe, three countries come to mind (even though there are many other delightful destinations): Russia, Poland, and Germany. These three countries feature a culinary variety that is representative of a major portion of Eastern Europe.

Russia’s usual diet is derived from the rural peasant palate, which has evolved around the country’s frigid forecast. Main ingredients of the Russian diet include fish, game, poultry, honey and berries. Russian expansion took place during the 16th to 18th centuries, thereby making Russia a more attractive and interesting nation, resulting in a foreign-influenced culinary tradition: pastry making. Foreign methods were also melded with existing Russian traditions to create new Russian delicacies. Pirozhki is a product of this combination. A pirozhok is a small bun (mini-pie) stuffed with a variety of different fillings. There is no established ingredient list for Pirozhki filling, but there are commonly used ingredients: meat, fish, cabbage, rice, boiled eggs, mushrooms, mashed potatoes or dill. After the pirozhki are filled, they are either baked or shallow fried (partially placed in oil so one side cooks first, then flipped to cooked the other side). Pirozhki are different from English pies, because pirozhok filling is fully cooked while the meat of English pies are slightly undercooked.

Moving West, Poland’s territory was divided up among Russia, Prussia and Austria, introducing different influences into certain Polish areas. Polish food consists of numerous meat dishes, and involves the abundant use of cream and eggs. Some Polish dishes utilize noodles, which more accurately resemble dumplings since they are thick pieces of boiled dough. One famous example of a Polish dumpling/noodle is the pierog (pierogi is the plural form), which is similar to the pirozhok, noting that they are both made with dough and stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Another famous Polish staple is the versatile kielbasa. It is traditionally served at Polish weddings (but thankfully marriage is not necessary to eat one). Kielbasa is made with a wide range of meat (practically anything that you have on-hand), and is usually sold fresh or smoked. Usual preparation includes boiling, baking or grilling; it can also be featured as a part of soups, sauerkraut and casseroles. Kielbasa is such an enticing dish that it has developed a fanbase in South Africa and North America.

Germany is our last culinary exploration site. Germany is widely known for its production of beer. Just like its food, Germany’s beer varies by the region as well. Pale lager pilsener is found throughout the country, whereas wheat beer is common in Bavaria. Altbier is a dark brew that’s local to Dusseldorf and the lower Rhine; Kolsch is similar but it hosts a lighter hue, and is local to the Cologne area. There is even a sour beer, called Berliner Weisse, that is mixed with raspberry syrup. This type of beer is extremely sour so it's mixed with syrup (raspberry or woodruff) to offset the sourness; it is also mixed with other beers such as pale lager to achieve the same effect. The Germans often mix their beer with non-alcoholic drinks such as cola and carbonated lemonade, similar to the Colombian tradition of mixing beer and soda.

By Miami Food Blogger, Kewal Arjoon

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