Food for Friends : Russian
Our latest Food for Friends evening was January 7th and the cuisine was Russian. It turns out that January 7th is Christmas Day in Russia. (Who knew? Obviously not me. ) So that meant that we were able to prolong the Christmas revelry, which we did, kicking the night off with a Moscow Mule.
We then had some pagach, a bread served with honey then chopped garlic. It’s traditionally the first thing eaten after the fast on Christmas Eve. The honey represents the sweetness of life, while the garlic represents its bitterness.
A type of porridge, called sochivo or kutya, consisting of grains, poppy seeds and (again) honey (where the grains represent hope, the poppy seeds peace and the honey sweetness again) is then usually brought out. However, we forewent that pleasure and went for borscht instead.
Borscht, a beetroot soup served with soured cream and a sprig of dill, was worth serving for the colour alone.
We had this with vodka which went surprisingly well.
Then came the main course. Goose with soured cream sauce is popular on Christmas Day in Russia but the thought of cooking a big bird so soon after the turkey of a few weeks ago did not appeal. Instead we had a Russian stroganoff, beetroot, cabbage pie and spatzle.
The cabbage pie was a revelation, tasting as it did like a frittata. We then had to stop for a break, a Russian cocktail break, this time a White Russian.
Feeling a little full we listened to some rousing Russian music to give us strength for the dessert.
And then it came.
I was expecting some kozulya, biscuits in the shape of reindeer, goats or sheep, as these are very popular at Christmas time in Russia. But no, instead we were presented with not one, not two, but three Russian sweet treats – a honey cake, another honey cake and a fruity little number accompanied with a sweet syrupy juice (to put down the layers of fat no doubt needed to cope with the extremes of those Siberian winters).
We finished the evening with a warming vodka shot before smashing our glasses in the fireplace and making our way home…or is that a national stereotype for another country?
Recipes to follow.