Traditional Slavic dishes in Russia

Many historians point out that Russian cuisine in the 16th-17th centuries was not very diverse. There was no potato, which is now very popular. Vegetable salad or baked chicken with cheese are considered common today, but in Ancient Russia, the dishes were even simpler and uncomplicated.

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Customs first and foremost

People strictly observed the fasts, and most often the table was either lean or modest. As a rule, the oldest woman in the family was involved in cooking. Later, chefs began to appear who were the keepers of the traditions of folk cuisine.

“Russian cuisine is quite national, that is, it was based on customs, not art.”

From the book by N.I. Kostomarov “Outline of the domestic life and customs of the Great Russian people in the 16th and 17th centuries.”

Peasant hut Maksimov V.M. 1869
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Main dishes of the Slavs

The diet of the Slavs consisted of dairy products, flour products, meat and fish dishes and cereals. The peasants produced almost all food products themselves. The main product was considered to be bread and mainly rye. By the way, the very name of the bread meant rye.

NI Kostomarov wrote: “The Russians even preferred it to wheat, attributed more nutritional value to it.”

And here is what is said in the book by V. Berdinskikh “Russian Village. Life and customs “:

“The children’s stomachs from eating a lot of bread were swollen, taut, with blue navels.”


Among the cereals, barley, oats, sinew and wheat were consumed. Along with vegetables, they were used to make soups and baked goods. The most popular soups were considered to be cabbage soup, borscht, pickle, hodgepodge, and fish soup. They are on the menu of many families to this day.

In ancient Russia, porridge was very popular. Wheat or oatmeal, steamed in the oven, and then seasoned with butter.

Bakery products

Wheat flour was used for flour products such as rolls, chicken coops, pancakes, pancakes, brushwood, etc. No salt was used in the concoction and the dough was bland or sour. Moreover, the latter got its name from the cooking process. In a large special vessel (kvashna) the dough was leavened or sour. They put it in a warm place so that it rose and then it was possible to bake.

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Muromsky kalach in B. Kustodiev’s painting “A merchant’s wife drinking tea” (1923)
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“Wheat flour was used for prosphora, and in home life for rolls, which were generally a delicacy for the common people on holidays – this is why the proverb: you can’t lure a roll.” From the book of N.I. Kostomarov.

Before potatoes appear

The most common vegetables (before potatoes) were turnips and radishes. Then they were much larger in size. These vegetables were stewed, fried, or used as pie filling.

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Milk products

Dairy products were very popular. They were a source of calcium and many beneficial vitamins needed to strengthen bones. Sour cream was used for soups, salads, or added to cottage cheese. And cheese cakes were made from cottage cheese.

Meat and fish dishes

The main method of preparing meat dishes was frying in large pieces in the oven or boiling, and they were eaten only on holidays. From meat food were known beef, pork, chickens, geese and ducks. Sometimes on the tables was meat of wild animals (venison, wild boar).

We also found curious old recipes at Kostomarov:

“When counting meat dishes, one cannot fail to mention one original dish called the hangover: cut slices of cold lamb mixed with finely chopped cucumbers, pickle pickle, vinegar and pepper; it was used for a hangover. “

Fishing was another way to get food. The fish was often fried, dried, boiled or salted.

“Fish soup was made from various fish, mainly scaly ones, as well as from fish giblets mixed with millet or cereals and with a large addition of pepper, saffron and cinnamon.”

From the book of N.I. Kostomarov.


Sbiten, kvass, fruit drink, jelly, beer were considered national drinks in Russia. Kvass was popular not only among the peasants, but also among the kings. Honey (mead) was considered the best Russian drink.

“Put honey was prepared like kvass, but with yeast or hops, and therefore differed from kvass in its hopping properties. The berry honey was a refreshing and pleasant drink. It was usually made from raspberries, currants, cherries and apples. “

From the book of N.I. Kostomarov.

Festive food

On holidays, they baked large pies (mushroom or fish), gingerbread. Home-made beer was placed on the table. Roasted suckling pig was very popular in wealthy houses in the 19th century.

Some dishes were timed to coincide with certain events.

For example, kurnik was baked as a wedding cake. Kutia was prepared for funerals or commemorations, pancakes for Shrovetide, and Easter cakes were baked for Easter.

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Konstantin Makovsky. A cup of honey. Early 1880s. Donetsk Regional Art Museum
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