Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Alinka

eG Foodblog: Alinka - Not Just Borsch: Eating in Moscow

Recommended Posts

Good morning everyone! Time flies incredibly fast: when Susan offered me to keep a blog right after we moved to Moscow in the end of May, I did not want to say no, but I did not feel ready and asked if I could do it sometime at the end of summer, like August. Before I knew it, my blog week is here!

So… A week of blogging from Russia, how exciting! Let me tell you how this happened. My American husband and I met in Russia when we were students, and got married 10 years ago. So I moved to States to be with him. Last year Shawn landed a job which eventually took him to Russia. In May he was offered to stay in Moscow long-term, and very fortunately my company was also able to offer me a job in our Moscow office.

These two months of adjusting to the new life have been interesting, to say the least. I was expecting what they call a “reverse cultural shock,” which people experience when they move back to their home country. But I would say, to me it almost seems like I have simply moved to a new country, the language and customs of which I happen to know. Believe me, Russia has become a new country in the 10 years I’ve been away (and I have become a different person, too). Additionally, I have never lived in Moscow and am just getting to know the city. My new job is also a lot different from what I used to do before, more demanding and with much longer hours. Just to keep things interesting, life threw in another surprise: a few days after we decided to move to another country, we found out we are going to have a baby!

When I think about introducing you to Moscow in a culinary sense, I get overwhelmed: there are so many things to see and do (and eat), and there are so many misconceptions about what’s available here that I don’t know where to begin. But, as they say, one cannot embrace the boundless, so I will not attempt. I will simply invite you to spend my usual week with me, with no weddings, Passovers, visits to wineries, or other special events planned. I think even that should be plenty interesting :smile:. And, as good tourists, we will assume we will return: hopefully, in a year or so I will be able to invite you to another blogging week in Moscow which will be completely different as I will be offering the view of a seasoned Moscovite :smile:.

Well… What a long introduction! And you are probably just waiting for the pictures. Then, we shall begin with… breakfast!

Before we do that, a short notice: since English is not my native tongue, I am sure I will make a lot of mistakes, but we’ll just consider them my quaint Eastern European accent, won’t we? :wink: And, my name is Alina, but I used the diminutive form of my name because Alina was already taken when I was registering. Either one is fine.

Oh, and please ask plenty of questions: we can make this blog whatever we want, and your questions will shape what will be talking about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So excited to finally see you blogging! I'm looking forward to the beautiful pictures to follow. I'd love to see as much as possible of Moscow and "typical" foods eaten by those around you as well as your own daily fare, if possible. Fascinating to look at a different part of the world and see what's different and what is the same.


Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:cool:

I'm particularly curious about the way marketing has changed over the years you were gone. If shop owners aren't uncomfortable about pictures, I for one would love to see some store interiors. Hope that's possible for you.

:biggrin:


Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So excited to finally see you blogging! I'm looking forward to the beautiful pictures to follow. I'd love to see as much as possible of Moscow and "typical" foods eaten by those around you as well as your own daily fare, if possible. Fascinating to look at a different part of the world and see what's different and what is the same.

Thanks Kathy! We'll see if others will not mind me sticking my camera in their plates :smile:.

:cool:

I'm particularly curious about the way marketing has changed over the years you were gone.  If shop owners aren't uncomfortable about pictures, I for one would love to see some store interiors.  Hope that's possible for you.

:biggrin:

I'll try to take pictures inside stores. They look pretty much the same as those elsewhere in Europe. I'm afraid I won't be able to offer a fair comparison just because I never lived in Moscow, and as every Russian knows the capital city is almost a different country.

By the way, I see a few Russian names in the list of the members reading this blog. I'd like to invite everyone to participate. Also, a small disclaimer: my view of Moscow and its food is very subjective and is no way meant to offend anyone. Comparison with the US is inevitable.

So... Back to our breakfast. This morning I had tvorog - cottage-cheese looking substance that is drier, less creamy and more tart. It is sold in containers like this, for example:

gallery_28661_3386_73628.jpg

They sell it in some stores in the States, too. There it is sometimes labeled "farmer's cheese." I added some sour cream and wild strawberries pureed with sugar:

gallery_28661_3386_38307.jpg

Wild strawberries are much smaller than the garden variety, but they have a lot more flavor. Shawn had his daily cereal of course (today it was Special K):

gallery_28661_3386_49120.jpg

As custom requires, a couple of shots of my kitchen:

gallery_28661_3386_62267.jpg

It looks bare because I do not like clutter on the counters. I'm fortunate to have a full-size dishwasher.

gallery_28661_3386_8232.jpg

Notice a round jar near the water bottle. I had a jar exactly like this one in Houston which I bought in Ikea to store bread. Well, this one was bought in the Moscow Ikea store, and it's used for the exact same purpose!

Now, a couple of views from our window. Unfortunately, the weather is kind of rainy today.

gallery_28661_3386_36564.jpg

gallery_28661_3386_107374.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alina, I have looked forward to a blog by you for ages! Have a wonderful time. Your English is excellent, and your photography is marvellous!

Lately, I've had the idea of trying to find a satisfying blintz in New York. Are blintzes part of Muscovite cuisine? What about varenniki, is that a common thing to eat there? I'm wondering how much overlap there is between the Eastern European Jewish cuisine I know from my Ukranian/Polish/Lithuanian background and today's Muscovite cuisine. Some other foodstuffs from my childhood are compote (made by my Ukranian Baba), pastrami, stuffed cabbage, borsht (as per your subtitle), shchav, latkes (potato pancakes), split pea soup, flanken (flank steak) or bone soup, chicken soup -- well, I think you get the picture. :wink:

Where are you from, by the way?


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alina,

I am looking forward to seeing Moscow. I haven't been there for 11 years and I know it has changed 180 degrees.

Happy blogging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alina,

I'll promise to visit your blog every day - I'm sure you'll make it very interesting. I love your stories and your great pictures. It's great that you've agreed to start this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alina!

I am so excited about this blog.

Is it a coincedence that yesterday I bought the Dutch translation of the 1861 Russian cookbook by Elena Molokhovets - A gift to young housewives? Do you know it?

I hope to see some Russian cooking this week, and maybe some of your gorgeous baking. But anything you do will be great! Have fun blogging!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely wonderful so far Alina, as I knew it would be, and as everyone who knows your posts would expect from you! I hope you enjoy this as much as all the rest of us.


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, this is really an awesome time for you - a whole new life, all at once. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

I spent a week in Moscow about 12 years ago, and I know that practically everything has changed since then. For one thing, there were virtually no restaurants at that time, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how restaurant culture has developed. I was there at exactly this time of year, and one of the best things I got to do was go for mushroms in the forest. Any chance you'll be doing that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alina: I’m looking forward to tales of Moscow and to your wonderful pictures. Congratulations on the impending family addition. Our two sons are from Russia, so we spent few jet-lagged days in Moscow each trip. I have very fond food memories from Russia, and I am still haunted by the delicious aromas that emanated from Russian pastry shops wherever we went.

Moscow is huge – can you give a general idea of where you are? Any tips for making shashlik (including what fish to substitute for sturgeon in the US)? Any tips on making Russian fruit-filled pastries?

How many diminutives are there for Alina?


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alinka, very much looking forward to reading your foodblog! Though I've been to St Petersburg several times, I've never been to Moscow, so it's interesting to hear about your food-related stories from that city.

Although the cuisines are different, there are still plenty of common elements in Estonian & Russian food, so I expect to read about some familiar dishes. How exciting!!!

I like your breakfast, curd cheese/tvorog is very popular back home, too. I also had wild strawberries in Estonia a fortnight ago - I picked them myself in the forst :rolleyes: - and miss them already! It would be interesting to read about the wide choice of wild mushrooms & berries available on a daily basis to Muscovites. There are so many Russian dishes I would like to read about - solyanka, kulebjaka, strogonov, ikra, etc etc, but I guess I must wait until your follow-up blog next year :unsure:

Also, congratulations on the baby news!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now this sounds like a real treat--a (sort-of-)insider's guide to Moscow!

I'd like to hear from you just how the city has changed in the decade or so since you last lived there. I'm sure the experience of shopping for food has changed dramatically from what it was like in Soviet days, and I'd like to see and hear how.

How is food produced and distributed now that the days of the collective farm are past? What's gotten better, and what (if anything) has gotten worse?

And what does the menu at the local McDonald's look like? :wink:

Also, you must do us weary Stateside commuters a favor and post one photo of the interior of a Moscow Metro station. The more ornate, the better.

You got the kitchen shot out of the way quickly, but what's inside that fridge?


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alinka,

Congratulations on the good news! Looking forward to seeing Moscow.. Have a great time..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so delighted you're blogging!! I love the IDEA of Moscow, from childhood reading---troikas and furs and dashes through the snow; always, always I imagined the sound of bells in the air---to histories, to the arts and literature and all that food! Your glorious photography will do justice to the steam and the colours---the crumb of a loaf, the shine of chocolate, and just the enticing array of your dishes. Your eye combined with a camera lens: forces to be reckoned with.

Your kitchen looks brand-new, like your life-change---a ready, clean white canvas for painting wonderful things. I'm SO looking forward to hearing about your week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Alinka,

I'm very much looking forward to seeing your week. And I second Pan's request to know where you came from. I'm curious about the comparisons between Moscow now, and other places you have lived.

When I think of Moscow, I think of cold dark snowy days, since you're way north. But as it's August, I hope you're getting a little sunlight. What time does the sun come up? And when does it get dark again, this time of year?

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, I did not expect such a response! Lots of questions for me to answer now, but I asked for them, didn't I? :smile: Thanks for your support and ecouragement. And for your congratulations :wub::smile:.

Let me tell you quickly about the rest of my day, so that you have some pictures to look at while I am answering questions.

My mom and my 7-year-old nephew were visiting us for a week. It was a fun and busy week as we were trying to show them as much of Moscow as we could. This whole week my mom did all the cooking, and she was regretful that my blogging week did not happen last week because she could show us all kinds of Russian home cooking. Today was their last day here, so she cooked a couple of dishes to make sure they last us for a couple of days.

For lunch, we had one of my favorites: plov. I was born in Kyrgyzstan where my parents grew up (although mom was born in Siberia). My family moved to Russia when I was 12 but there are still several dishes native to Central Asia that we in my family like. One of them is plov, a rice/carrot/lamb dish that is traditionally cooked in Uzbekistan, in heavy Dutch-oven-like pots. Mom made an easier variation of it, using chicken thighs instead of lamb.

gallery_28661_3386_105851.jpg

My favorite way to eat it is with tomato and onion salad, so that the rice soaks up the juice from the salad:

gallery_28661_3386_75371.jpg

We still had a few hours to kill before my mom's and nephew's train departure (it's a 72-hour train ride) so we went for a walk in the park and did some window shopping. Mom wanted me to take this picture:

gallery_28661_3386_14646.jpg

Then we came across my nephew's favorite dining establishment of which there are unfortunately plenty in this city:

gallery_28661_3386_85315.jpg

McDonald's... Making kids happy worldwide.

This one is for MarketStEl (and no, I didn't know you were going to ask!):

gallery_28661_3386_102772.jpg

gallery_28661_3386_113304.jpg

So... They are gone, and the apartment feels empty. But here's another thing left from their visit: mom's borsch for supper (it's in the title, so we have to see it here at least once, don't we? :smile:)

gallery_28661_3386_18143.jpg

I shared a recipe for borsch once here. This time though mom did use beets.


Edited by Alinka (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow what a beautiful dish of borsch - i can almost taste it over here.

your kitchen cabinets match those i had in my first house...who would have thought?

i'm especially interested in any american foods you have become accustomed to that you seek out or make in your new hometown.


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are blintzes part of Muscovite cuisine? What about varenniki, is that a common thing to eat there? I'm wondering how much overlap there is between the Eastern European Jewish cuisine I know from my Ukranian/Polish/Lithuanian background and today's Muscovite cuisine. Some other foodstuffs from my childhood are compote (made by my Ukranian Baba), pastrami, stuffed cabbage, borsht (as per your subtitle), shchav, latkes (potato pancakes), split pea soup, flanken (flank steak) or bone soup, chicken soup -- well, I think you get the picture. :wink:

Where are you from, by the way?

Blintzes is the word I first heard in the US. In Russia, we call them blini or blinchiki. They look like crepes and can be stuffed with tvorog, meat, liver+rice, etc., or eaten plain, with jam, sour cream, butter, condensed milk, etc. These days, there are blini kiosks all over the city, offering fast, cheap and filling food of blinis stuffed with anything from Nutella to smoked salmon and caviar. For some reason, the type stuffed with cheese and ham is called "Internet" :hmmm:.

gallery_34224_2175_9064.jpg

Regarding your question about the overlap between Eastern European Jewish cuisine and modern Russian cuisine, it's hard to tell. I'm sure there is some, just by the virtue of geographical proximity (Russians also have stuffed cabbage, borsch, compot, and chicken soup) but I think the Western idea of the Russian cuisine was formed by the massive emigration of the Jewish population to the West and does not truly reflect the current situation. Besides, Russian cuisine evolved in a different direction even for the simple reason that Russian housewives had to find ways to adapt to the shortages during the Soviet time and still provide their families with nutritious meals. Again, this is just my subjective view; I am not a food historian. Split pea soup, latkes, pastrami or flank steak are not common in Russian home kitchens, at least as far as I can tell. Shchav is probably the dish we call "green borsch" because the Russian word shchavel means "sorrel."

It is really difficult for me to speak for the entire country because Russia is so huge that there are bound to be regional variations. Besides, it's important to remember that ethnic Russians constute only a portion of the population. The Soviet Union consisted of 15 republics not to mention different ethnic groups within Russia. There was (is) a lot of sharing and mingling of traditions and cuisines.

You also mentioned vareniki. I did talk about them a little here.

There was a quesition of my background. I was born in Kyrgyzstan and lived there for the first 12 years of my life. I graduated from high school in Kamchatka, Russian Far East (across the Bering Strait from Alaska), and went to college in Pyatigorsk, which is located in the south of Russia, Northern Caucasus to be precise. My parents now live in the Krasnodar Region which is not far from the Black Sea. My mom's family comes from Siberia, and my dad's family is from Voronezh which is in central Russia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it a coincedence that yesterday I bought the Dutch translation of the 1861 Russian cookbook by Elena Molokhovets - A gift to young housewives? Do you know it?

Hi Klary! I have heard about the book but I have never seen it. Just recently I read an article about it in one of Moscow’s English language expat magazines, and I thought it was interesting. My impression was though that the recipes are not easy to follow and use the ingredients that no longer exist. The author’s opinion was that nobody heard of the book during the Soviet times because it could remind the population of the times past when there was no shortage of anything. I now want to at least look through the book, I’m sure it can be found in any bookstore.

I spent a week in Moscow about 12 years ago, and I know that practically everything has changed since then.  For one thing, there were virtually no restaurants at that time, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how restaurant culture has developed.  I was there at exactly this time of year, and one of the best things I got to do was go for mushroms in the forest.  Any chance you'll be doing that?

There are lots and lots of restaurants now, virtually on every corner. From cheap to outrageously expensive, from minimalist to lavishly decorated… I can’t think of a cuisine that wouldn’t be represented. We’ll probably talk more about Moscow’s restaurant scene later. As to mushroom and berry picking, we did some of that when we visited our friends’ dacha but I am not a connoisseur, so I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a poisonous mushroom and an edible one.

While we are on the subject of dachas :smile:... Dacha is an important part of Moscow and indeed Russian life. It’s a house in the country (ranging from a shack to a huge mansion, depending on the family’s income) where people go on weekends or on vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of the huge megapolis. Many people have vegetable gardens and orchards there which they use to supplement their grocery needs. On Friday nights the traffic on the roads leading out of the city is terrible due to the mass exodus. A couple of weeks ago we spent a weekend at a friends’ dacha which we enjoyed immensely as this was our first chance to get out of the city. We grilled some meat and fish there, had wine and beer (ok, I didn’t :rolleyes::biggrin:) and picked red and black currants and raspberries from their garden. There is nothing like eating warm berries straight from the bush! Here are some photos from that weekend: http://silverbelle.fotki.com/dacha Susan used some for her teaser photos. By the way, MarketStEl gets the prize for guessing the country correctly :biggrin:.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For some reason, some of the photos do not show on my screen. I hope I am the only one experiencing these problems.

It's getting late here so we will have to continue tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone for you kind words - you guys are a great crowd!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it a coincedence that yesterday I bought the Dutch translation of the 1861 Russian cookbook by Elena Molokhovets - A gift to young housewives? Do you know it?

Hi Klary! I have heard about the book but I have never seen it. Just recently I read an article about it in one of Moscow’s English language expat magazines, and I thought it was interesting. My impression was though that the recipes are not easy to follow and use the ingredients that no longer exist. The author’s opinion was that nobody heard of the book during the Soviet times because it could remind the population of the times past when there was no shortage of anything. I now want to at least look through the book, I’m sure it can be found in any bookstore.

the Dutch translation doesn't have any weird ingredients, but it's not an integral translation. It does have some directions though that I don't see myself doing in my city apartment.... like "feed your chicken some vinegar and kill it one hour later" ... :wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alina, I'm so excited about this blog and congradulations on your pregnancy! Zhelayu vam vsevo lychshevo!

So, I have a request: I'm from Kiev so i don't know if it's the same in Moscow, but one of the things I missed most when we came to US was the bread! Could you do a little photo/visit or something to a bakery and show some bread? Extra points if you find Ukrainian chernyi xleb! And, bybliki!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      After ...
      ... I headed to the airport and flew Nanning, China to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. The meal on board the plane is here.
       
      We landed two hours later and after the usual immigration nonsense  I was met by an old friend and her husband. They had helped me book me a hotel and took me there. The couple are Chinese but live and work in HCMC. They dropped me off at the hotel, made sure I was settled in and took off to attend to some business (they work in the jewellery business, importing and exporting between China and Vietnam), but returned in the evening to take me to dinner.
       
      We went here.
       

       
      The place,  Làng Nướng Nam Bộ,  is huge and, on a Friday evening was packed. My friends ordered - they both speak fluent Vietnamese whereas mine is limited to the basics. I just looked around.
       

       

       

       
      Each table was supplied with
       

      Tissues and two dips. One was fish sauce and the other seemed to be shrimp paste with sesame.
       
      and
       

      A bag of crackers, some pickled gherkins or similar and a dip of salt and chilli
       

      Steamed Chicken with Banana Hearts
       

      Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls - accompanied by a mixed selection of raw greens, which are served with almost everything.
       

      Grilled Venison with Grilled Okra
       

      Hotpot protein - squid, shrimp, clams, beef
       

      Hotpot Vegetables - including both banana hearts and shoots.
       
      Everything was good. Especially the venison. I hadn't expected okra, but it seems to be popular. Every market I visited had some, but I'm getting ahead of myself. More to come.
    • By Foodiversal
      Hi everybody! I'm Jake, I'm 26 and from the United Kingdom. I've recently left a career in science teaching and I really hope to pursue my true passion, food writing by becoming either a recipe developer, a food journalist, or both! I've launched my website today so thought it was a good time to get active in some online forums and say hello! I look forward to meeting and interacting with you all ❤️ 
    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Hello again from south of the equator!  As you may or may not have heard (because the international news media isn't really giving the situation much coverage), Ecuador is in the grip of a major social protest movement.  This started on October 1, when fuel subsidies in the country were abruptly struck causing the prices of gasoline and diesel to more than double overnight.  Transport and heavy haulage unions immediately went on strike, and blocked the main roads of the cities with their vehicles in protest.  The indigenous movements of the central Sierra, beginning in my province, Tungurahua, joined the strike on October 2, and the President quickly declared a State of Emergency that restricts movement, freedom of the press, and freedom association.  The indigenous took over the road blockades on October 3, cutting the cities off from the world; Ambato became an island overnight.
       
      It is now October 8, one week into the blockades.  Shortages in the fresh markets and supermarkets began on Sunday, as people realized that we were in for a long-haul of protest and possibly an overthrow of the sitting government.  Ecuador's indigenous have a long history of deposing governments in this way, and it's not a fast process.
       
      I'll be blogging informally throughout the National Strike, to document how the inevitable food shortages affect the city and my own table. 
       
      These first pictures are from Sunday, October 6.  In the Mercado Mayorista, a place I've always taken you along to when I've blogged from Ambato, the cement floors of the naves are visible in places where they have never, in my experience, been exposed.  The fresh corn nave is all but abandoned - this is because all of the corn in the city's stock has been sold.  I'll remind you: a nave in this market is about a thousand square metres of space.  This is also missing the big trucks that come to trade fresh grains in the parking lot, because they couldn't make it through the roadblocks.  Most of the Mayorista is in the same situation - stocks are selling off fast.

       
      The supermarkets are even more dire.  The meat coolers are completely empty, and the produce shelves are diminishing quickly.



       
    • By Kerry Beal
      @Alleguede and I are in the lounge at Pearson awaiting our flight to Vegas for the IBIE (International Baking Industry Exhibition).
       
      I got the usually bomb sniffing swab done on my electronics - @Alleguede got the 3rd degree at customs. Anyone know what a carnet is? I believe I got that lecture the last time.
       

       
      Made myself a little cocktail, Maker's Mark, Grand Marnier, vintage port. I've had better! 
       

       
      Not a lot of choices to eat since it's rather late (not that earlier would have helped) - they also have pasta salad, Italian Wedding soup, Cream of mushroom soup, corn chips and salsa. There appear to be some cookies there as well. I'm trying to low carb as much as possible so I'm avoiding most of it.
       

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
    • By ElsieD
      Host's note: the initial title of this thread was "Swarvin' in ???"  as a teaser.  Once the destination was identified as Newfoundland, the title was changed to reflect this.  The initial comments were based on the ??? In the title.
       
       
      And we'll soon be off.......culinary adventures to follow.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...