"What will you eat in Russia?" That was one of the first things everyone asked me when I told them I was going to study abroad in St. Petersburg. At the time, I didn't really have an definitive answer for what I would eat in Russia, other than your typical borscht and potatoes. 

But after being in Russia for almost two months now, and having been to the three major cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novgorod, I've gotten a good sense of the food culture and cuisine here in the Russian Federation. Here is a rundown of some of your typical eats over the course of the day. 

Breakfast - Завтрак

Curtis Eckley

Probably one of the most popular dishes in Russia is kasha, which is basically any grain that's boiled in water or milk, i.e. porridge. It can be buckwheat, millet, or just like the regular oatmeal we have in America, but in Russia it's all kasha.

Curtis Eckley

If we weren't having kasha for breakfast, our host mom would make blini. They're basically the Russian answer to crêpes. You can either eat them sweet with honey, apple, or jam, or savory, with cheeses, salmon or caviar (this variety is extremely popular for the festival of Maslenitsa, which you can celebrate with the Russian Department at Vassar in the spring). 

One difference between Russian and American breakfasts is that our typical eggs and toast combo is not really a thing here (unless you go to an American-style diner). Other foods you will eat in Russia for breakfast more often include open faced sandwiches with cucumbers or salmon, bread with cheese or fish spreads, crescents, and wafer cakes, everything served with a cup of tea.

Curtis Eckley

Lunch - Обед

I'm going to use this section to highlight the restaurant scene here in St. Petersburg, which to my surprise had everything from Indian, to Mexican, to Cuban, to Italian restaurants. Sushi restaurants are everywhere, with our host mom making us sushi and borscht for dinner once, and cafeteria-style restaurants are also pretty popular, more so than in America.  

However the most popular ethnic cuisines to eat in Russia are from the Caucasus, mainly Georgia and Armenia. Some favorite dishes we have include pkhali, which are balls of minced beets or spinach, and khachapuri, which our professor affectionately calls "Georgian pizza".

Curtis Eckley

We also found ourselves eating at a Korean restaurant pretty much every Thursday as it was on the way between our class at at the Hermitage Museum and our class at the Russian Museum. It was our little oasis for spicy food, and so we often ordered the bibimbap, and of course the kimchi.

Dinner - Ужи

Curtis Eckley

Dinner in Russia always consisted of some type of soup. Of course there was the popular beet soup known as borscht (with a ton of smetana, or sour cream), but also cabbage soup (shchi), or fish soup, all flavored with a ton of dill. Soup is also always eaten with a side of bread, whether it be white, black, or "grey".

Curtis Eckley

Along with soup there would be some sort of side dish, either a meat dish like fish or chicken, or a potato dish, but we also often had dumplings called varenyky, stuffed with cheese and mushrooms. The side dish was also usually served with something pickled, whether that be pickled carrots, pickled mushrooms, pickled cucumbers, pickled herring, or pickled meats called salo.

Our professor explained that with all those pickled dishes, there were many drinks meant to be paired with them, such as all of the varieties of vodkas and meads that would help you survive the harsh and brittle winter.

wine, alcohol, liquor, cocktail, beer, ice, vodka, whisky, rum
Danny Goldenberg

Even though the days are getting darker and colder, and I'm beginning to long for sun and warmth, I know I'll miss Russia. I now know that I can handle anything New York weather has to offer, but most importantly I know I'll be prepared the next time I go at my local Russian grocery store.