Saturday, December 10, 2011

Russia Snapshot #5: Food

Food is a huge part of our travel experiences, no matter where we go. From roasted goat and boiled beans in Uganda to crawfish in Louisiana, tasting the local cuisine helps us get a little closer to understanding the people.  On our trip to Russia, one great joy for my husband and me was introducing our children to the culinary highlights.

Below my daughter eats her first pelemeni on Russian soil. Pelemeni are a type of ravioli filled with ground meat and served with dill and sour cream. Sometimes it is served as a soup and sometimes the pelemeni are fried. Though my kids have eaten pelemeni many times before - I make them and we can buy them frozen in Berlin - there was something special about eating them in their country of origin.

My husband loves posi, a traditional Buryat dish. Posi are large, steamed dumplings filled with ground pork, beef and lamb. There is even a special way to eat it: since there is a hole the top of the dumpling that the broth can spill out of, you gently hold a dumpling in your hand, take a small bite from of the side, and then suck out the broth. Posi are crowd-pleasers for both young and old, but you only need to eat a couple to be full for days! Below we are eating posi in Ulan-Ude.

A favorite Siberian past time is eating cedar nuts, which come from a cone just like pine nuts. There is an art to cracking the small nuts and it can be addictive once you start. When I lived in Ulan-Ude, most of my American teammates would give up in frustration saying it was too much work for such a small nut. But this is a small joy in life that I learned to treasure. After a few minutes, my kids were walking down the street with a pocketful of cedar nuts cracking away just like any Siberian kid would.

Fresh cedar nuts from the market.

We also tried the marvelous fresh berries from the market. The orange ones are called "oblipekha" in Russia and "sea-buckthorn" berry in English and "Sanddorn" in German. These sour berries are often called "Siberian pineapple" and are delicious with a little sugar mixed in.

Friends in Moscow made fresh blini for us, one of my favorite Russian treats. These crepe-like pancakes
can be eaten with marmelade  . . .

  . . . or savory with things like caviar and sour cream!

We also had plov, a traditional Uzbek rice pilaf with lamb or beef, carrots, onions and sometimes raisins. It's mouth-watering!

Our "Plov Evening" with friends in Moscow.

Hmmm . . . I think we need a few more varieties of sausage here:

And did we mention that we love the ice cream in Russia?!!!

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