Russian-Snaks-art - 4/23/02
"A Russian Snack!" by Posadnik. Some modern and period Russian snack foods.
NOTE: See also the files: Rus-Handbook-art, Russia-bib, Russia-msg, candy-
msg, gingerbread-msg, Period-Fruit-art, pretzels-msg, cookies-msg.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
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Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous
A Russian snack!
Fast food may have been invented just recently. But the general idea of the
quick snack between meals was popular with almost every culture. Russian snack
recipes were "good oldies" even when the Domostroi wasn't yet written. The
Russian snack industry wasn't sandwich or bread-and-butter-based. While brown
bread was nutritious enough to be a snack by itself, Russian lifestyle suggested
that lots of food be preserved for the cold season (that covers 7 months of a
year, actually). And preservation of food mainly involved fermenting or cooking
of some kind, which made the ever-ready product. Also honey, the best natural
preservative & food at the same time, was widely available in Russian woods. As
well as nuts, mushrooms, strawberries, raspberries, black currants, etc. In
general, Russians had dozens of salads, many meat-or-fish-based dishes preserved
for a rather long time, and an endless variety of various sweet, tasty things.
The ease of getting something from a cellar made the popular joke: Russian style
of eating is once a day but constantly.
So, first we deal with vegetable salads of any kind. Their recipes were kept in
monastery kitchens, as monks had to eat lenten fare most of the time. The
source: the Domostroi, references from official docs (period) & religious
It is highly characteristic of Russian cooking to use it, and there are lots of
different Sauerkraut recipes, which are interesting by themselves. (Later, I
hope to make a separate article on these).
Put Sauerkraut into the bowl, slice an onion (if you have a problem with the
fumes, put the rings into boiling water for a few seconds) & add the rest of the
items there. Dress with vegetable oil (Today’s usual dressing is non-raffinated
sunflower oil, but period one would have been hempseed oil. This was used in
both cookery and the machines of the time). Add sugar if necessary.
Slice or grate a Black Radish, put it into the bowl, add vinegar & salt & let
stand (some minutes). Then dress with vegetable oil.
Salted (marinated) mushrooms.
Cut if marinated whole, put into fresh water for a couple of minutes if too
salty. Add onions as mentioned above. Dress with either vegetable oil or sour
Marinated (salted) cucumbers
Slice and make a picturesque row along the plate's perimeter.
Served whole (if grown from seed this year. Use of last year's onion is not
recommended). Eaten from the root end, adding salt.
Well, use any recipe comes in handy, as salt and fish are the same all around
the globe. References from the pre-Mongol times.
Dry fish (vobla)
Well, vobla isn't a kind of fish, it's a way to preserve it, using salt (though
most Russians don't remember it). It is salted and dried river fish. No more
than palm-size. A quality one must be of good semi-transparent amber color and
rather hard to bend. It is consumed as a separate dish (during fast or in
haste), with beer (modern style) or you can make a soup of it.
Then comes some stuff that needs cooking on or in the stove beforehand.
No actual difference with boiled ones, except the method of cooking.
Simply boil it in a small amount of salty water. Then slice or mash it. Add
butter or vegetable oil to the mash if necessary. As a period proverb goes,
"It's simpler than stewed turnip".
Cold baked fish (river).
Mentioned in many texts on monastery life.
Pea porridge (the same as the Polish version)
Put dry peas into the pot, add water (2:1). Leave enough free space, as it
expands greatly when stewed. Cook until soft (& extra water evaporates), then
mash it if needed. Serve hot as a double porridge meal (e.g. added to buckwheat
porridge), or cool & sliced. The traditional filling for pies as well (onions
added if necessary).
Boiled or smoked, it was served as "holy" food on major holidays in pre-
Christian times (that lasted until 1200s). Even Prince Andrew Bogoloubski
("loving God") had much trouble with his confessor, while combining being a good
Christian with a habit of eating traditional pork dishes even on Fridays and
Wednesdays (and having got the excuse to do it at last, on condition he kept
being a pious man).
Kholodets, or stouden (jellified meat boullion).
Traditionally served at Christmas feast, but also available during the whole
Wash pork legs (no less than 4 pounds), cutting off nothing. The gelatin is not
added but boiled out from all that tendons and bones that upset you so much when
you see the whole carcass. Add water to just to cover it all up (if they are too
long to lay horizontally, use an enamel bucket or simply cut the stuff into
pieces), put salt, pepper & laurel leaf (bay leaf). Put to boiling and then cook
on VERY low heat for about two to three hours. In about 2/3 of the time add
garlic. When the time's up, cut off all the meat (it will tend to spread through
the boullion by the time) and throw away what's left. Chop or simply divide the
meat with a spoon. Put the meat into deep bowls and cover with the boullion. Put
the bowls into the fridge (not the freezer!) & wait until it jellifies (store
there for as long as your temper allows). Cut into huge cubes and arrange them
on a dish. Don't forget to provide mustard. Order "now" and be quick to avoid
running crowds. :-)
Holy food again, as the Russians remained sun-worshippers even in their
christianity. Not just a snack served cool, but also out of traditional system
of two courses & desserts. In "christian" times (no earlier than 1200s, with
some features accepted closer to 1480) pancakes were eaten during the last week
before the Lent, when meat was out of diet already. In "pagan" times (all the
everyday pagan traditions remained intact until the coming of the Mongols) hot
pancakes symbolizing the sun were eaten "in date" (not being connected with the
Easter day calculations) about the day of spring solstice (22 March), which
makes the whole-Europe tradition of marking the start of the spring.
There are dozens of recipes. Here's the simplest one. Take 4 eggs, beat them
with sour milk (a glass or more). Add flour to get a rather liquid pastry. The
thicker the pastry, the thicker (and smaller) the pancakes. Salt & sugar to your
liking. Bake them on an iron frying pan with a thick bottom, no tin-can teflon
here. Oil the pan with vegetable oil, not pouring it on but using half an onion
as a brush.
If some batter is left, leave it to ferment for a day. Then add eggs, sour milk
and flour again - this was the period kind of yeast batter.
If the batter is made thick enough to be taken with a spoon and doesn't spread
much on the pan, we treat them as separate dish (oladii).
You can make special pancake dressing (pripiok) by cooking a mixture of neatly
chopped lard & onions on the same pan. When ready, simply use it as plain
There are more recipes using other sorts of grain added.
Buckweat Pancakes : easy to guess, buckwheat flour added to the batter (but not
without the wheat flour).
Rye Pancakes: as above. The batter must be a bit thicker.
Ukrainian pancakes (pshenianiki, millet-pancakes) are made with millet porridge
added to the batter.
Pies, cakes and turnovers.
As well, a good period food. Actually, they are referred to as one type of food,
differing in size and shape.
Pies (pirogi) are big; their shape is rectangular or oval. Cakes/turnovers
(pirozhki) are oval and no more than half-palm-sized. Coulebiakas are of same
oval shape as pirozhki but much bigger and sometimes offer two or three layers
of filling (savory). Vatroushki are round and filled with cottage cheese, or
sweet cheese-based mass (cheese, flour, egg, sugar/honey, raisins welcome), the
filling is not covered in the middle. Cournik is a holy round pie, filled with
chopped liver, onions & potatoes (as now; no direct evidence of that, except the
name, is taken from the period)
Make yeast pastry (no different from common recipes). Roll it until about 1 cm
thick. Put on some filling. Turn the edges up, covering the filling a bit (for
vatroushki), then cover with another layer of pastry, leaving a small "vent"
hole in the centre (for pies). Wash the top side with beaten egg.
The filling is extremely varied. The most popular stuff is: chopped egg with
spring onions; apples (with sugar or honey), berries of any kind (again with
sugar or honey), stewed cabbage with chopped egg, sauerkraut, salted mushrooms,
boiled mushrooms, stewed carrots, stewed turnips (now the replicant filling of
mashed potatoes is EXTREMELY popular), meat with onions, chopped liver, cottage
cheese/cottage cheese sweet mass, porridge etc. As a rule, the filling must be
edible (not raw) even before being put into the pie.
It is a very specific gelatin-like substance. Take any berries, boil them in a
VERY small amount of water (actually, stew them) until they lose form, then
spread the stuff on a well-oiled paper and wait until it dries. The dried stuff
is stored into rolls until needed.
Nuts (or seeds) boiled in honey.
You can just heat them a little, adding honey flavour into nuts, or take a lot
of nuts with a little honey and process until solidification starts. This is
related to the Middle-East Kozinaki.
Again it speaks for itself. The wax is supposed to clean the teeth while chewing
and is much more healthy than Wrigley's. :-)
(rather startling an idea at first, but…)
cucumbers with honey
If you try to put some honey on a slice of a cucumber, you'll see this
traditional monastery snack to be much tastier than you can imagine while
Any pumpkin-eating nation knows this to be delicious, especially served with
sugar or honey.
– – – – -
The list is not in the least complete, of course. But it covers the easiest and
the most common recipes known from the Middle Ages until now.
Copyright 2002 by Alexey Kiyaikin. Moscow, Russia. <email@example.com>.
Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications,
provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in
the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also
appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being
reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.
Copyright © Mark S. Harris (Lord Stefan li Rous)
All Rights Reserved
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Generated: Sun Jun 2 2002