In the UK, we may associate Russia with cold, snowy weather, but the summers are hot and sunny – and that means there’s nothing better than a picnic or an al fresco lunch in one of the many pavement cafes. And, as in the UK, where thoughts switch to barbecues and salads, there are particular types of foods and drinks which Russians love to have at this time of year. Here are a few of our favourites.
Forget cola, this is the fizzy drink of choice on a hot day in Russia. It’s been made for centuries and the process is much like brewing beer, except the end result is pretty much alcohol-free. The main ingredient in kvas is actually rye bread and the drink is a good source of vitamin B. Some say it’s the best energy drink on the market!
Like Spanish gazpacho, some soups are just best served cold. The Russian equivalent is okroshka. This soup is based on kvas, to which finely chopped cucumber, radishes, spring onions and boiled potatoes are added, as well as eggs and minced meat. Add a splash of sour cream to garnish and there you have it.
If beetroots float your boat, then you’ll love svekolnik. To a beet broth, using young beets if at all possible, a liquid is added. This can be kvas but also yoghurt or sour milk. Add diced potato, a bit of beef, some chopped egg, chopped cucumber and perhaps a bit of celery. Garnish with sour cream and a bit of dill. Yum!
Skewered meat known as shashlik is a popular choice in summer. Typically it’s lamb, but you’ll also find chicken, pork and beef versions. Its origins are rooted in Central Asia and it is thought the idea of meat on a stick arrived in Moscow a couple of centuries ago. Who could resist?
They sound delicious, don’t they? Why not try some at home or better still, take that trip to Russia you’ve been promising yourself and let the experts prepare them for you.