Soviet cuisine

Soviet cuisine

Soviet cuisine, which many cooks distinguish as a special direction in cooking, began to form in the era of the October Revolution and the bloody civil War that followed it. Refugee flows moved from the western regions of the former Empire, the Volga region, the Urals and Siberia to the central regions, bringing elements of national cuisines to traditional Russian cuisine. In addition, the processes of rapid urbanization and industrialization of the 20s – 30s, the Great construction projects brought their imprint to the mixing of culinary habits of different regions of the country. Soviet cuisine was formed by the end of the 30s as a result of the mutual influence of the national cuisines of the republics and individual autonomous regions of the USSR. Also, it is impossible not to mention the new-bourgeois gastronomy, which was formed in the NEP era from the mid-20s to the early 30s and was based on traditional Russian recipes that were simplified due to the shortage of products.

/ Poster/ 

The table of a Soviet person consisted, as a rule, of three dishes: soup, second course and compote or other drink. Among soups it is possible to note borrowed from the kitchen of the Ukraine borscht, a traditional soup and a rassolnik (picle soup), at least – a hodgepodge soup. Both in the widely spread canteens and on the home table, one could meet kharcho who arrived from the cuisine of the peoples of Transcaucasia. Pea soup with smoked meat was widely distributed, the basis for which could be purchased in store – bought briquettes-concentrates. Chicken noodle soup was popular – noodles were borrowed from the cuisine of Tatarstan and the Urals, milk soup with vermicelli, served mainly for breakfast. Cold soups were prepared: okroshka, botvinya, beetroot soup (the cuisine of Lithuania and southern Latvia). Sorrel soup.  

As well as fish soups. The latter gained special popularity by the end of the 30s thanks to the vigorous activity of Polina Zhemchuzhnaya, the wife of the head of the Foreign Ministry Molotov, who created the fishing industry almost from scratch. Refrigerators for fish storage were purchased abroad, the trawler fleet was expanded and modernized, and an active advertising campaign was launched. By the beginning of 1941, the country already had several dozen types of canned fish, and an unprecedented abundance of frozen and fresh fish, both marine and freshwater, appeared in stores. There were also widely available sprat, silver carp and gobies in tomato, and more rare sprats, cod liver, salmon. Canned salmon could be quickly made into a delicious and satisfying soup. Prices for canned fish were kept low to maintain good demand: this measure was used to mitigate the constant shortage of meat products. Prices for caviar in the USSR were also quite democratic: 1 kilogram of red caviar cost 3 rubles, and black caviar-40 rubles. The so – called fish day-Thursday was also introduced. Famous snacks were prepared from canned fish: mimosa salad and cod live saladr, famous aspic fish, fish under marinade, herring under a fur coat.

Among the main dishes on the table could be simple potatoes with herring and sauerkraut-cabbage, salted tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as various types of cutlets and meatballs in tomato sauce with mashed potatoes or rice, navy pasta with meat (a much simplified version of Italian Bolognese), meat zrazy with egg and potato-with meat, draniki (originally from Belarus). Dumplings were popular-a direct borrowing from the cuisine of Tatarstan. Its inhabitants, in turn, received this dish from China. Goulash and beef stroganoff were frequent guests in Soviet homes. Goulash, which cooks refer to as a thick soup, then to the second course, came to Soviet cuisine from Austria-Hungary. Beef Stroganoff also appeared from the south of Russia, from Odessa. There are a great many recipes for this dish: from a little clear whitish brew on the trays of public catering canteens to luxurious recipes from the tenderloin from the “Pushkin” restaurant.

* Interesting fact: Versions of the origin of the classic recipe of beef Stroganoff are quite large, here is the most common: Count Alexander Stroganoff, a representative of a famous noble clan and one of the richest people of his time, lost almost all his teeth in old age. Which made him give up his favorite beef. But the count's chef, Andre Dupont, came up with a recipe for a dish where small pieces of beef were stewed in a tomato-sour cream sauce with a lot of onions.

/Cuisine 1955/

From time to time, Stroganoff hosted delicious free lunches at his home in Odessa. No wonder the crowds took advantage of this opportunity. They could eat there royally and it was there that this dish was presented – named by analogy with the famous French recipe for beef bourguignon - "beef Stroganoff" in French. Beef Stroganoff is good with a side dish of rice, buckwheat, pasta (a variant from the catering service). But it is best to use it with thinly sliced toasted potatoes and pickles.

From borrowed dishes, you can also designate pilaf, which came from the cuisine of the peoples of Central Asia, cabbage rolls (Cossack cuisine), shish kebab, chicken tobacco (cuisine of Transcaucasia-Georgia). However, it is more correct to call the chicken dish "chicken tapaka", because the recipe got its name thanks to the dishes in which it is prepared-a heavy pan "tapa".

Finally, we can mention the simplest dish that was widely found on Soviet tables, both at home and in canteens – sausage with canned green peas. By the way, the spread of sausages, sausages, various sausages in Soviet cuisine is due to the Commissar of the food industry Anastas Mikoyan. In the mid-30s, he visited the United States and took over some of the experience of the American mass food industry. Upon arrival, he began building large food processing enterprises – dairy plants, factories for the production of meat products and canned food, enterprises for the processing of vegetables and fruits. In 1939, under his supervision, the Book on Delicious and Healthy Food was published, which was personally approved by I. V. Stalin and has passed 12 editions.

There was also a great abundance of appetizer recipes: from the already mentioned cold fish dishes and canned fish, to the famous, but very simplified olivier salad. Quite simple salads were common: vitamin, beetroot with garlic and walnuts, and jelly. The owners of 6 acres always had pickles and pickles on the table: tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, wild cherry, soaked apples. A rather expensive and rare vinaigrette in the tsarist era also gained great popularity.

/ Poster/ A. Miller 1938/

From soft drinks, compote from dried fruits, sweet jelly, kvass, sold from huge mobile barrels, lemonades and fruit juices were very well known. Birch sap became the hallmark of the Soviet food industry. Among alcoholic beverages, in addition to several varieties of vodka, there was Soviet champagne, a variety of liqueurs and punches. Tea, which was expensive and inaccessible to ordinary people in tsarist times, was widely distributed: after the nationalization of tea warehouses of trading companies in the 20s, the regular supply of Chinese tea to the Red Army and Navy began, it was given out free of charge to workers and civil servants. But coffee, especially instant coffee, was rare and quite expensive in the USSR.

That's all about Soviet cuisine in short. Send us your comments by email. Always yours, CityPASS.