It’s difficult to place Russian cuisine. Somewhat influenced by French cooking, it also uses locally-produced vegetables from the country’s dense forests and freshwater fish from the many rivers and lakes.
Most people think of Russian food in terms of caviar. Now that the sturgeon has been driven close to extinction, a variety of alternatives are available, and the dense black roe of the sturgeon costs hundreds of dollars per ounce. Salmon’s roe and red caviar are popular, but lack the salty tang of real caviar.
The other famous Russian dish is Borsch, a dense beetroot soup that almost everyone has as a starter at dinner, or a cheap and easy filler at lunch.
But Borsch is by no means the only soup that’s popular among Russians.
Solyanka is a thick vegetable soup that includes meat. Ukha is a broth filled with vegetables and fish, often downed (as is much of the Russian food) with a serving of vodka. And thick mushroom soups are popular in the autumn, when people head out into the countryside to discover the hidden fruits of the forest.
Main courses can sometimes feel like the traditional meat and two veg formula that British food suffered from before the 1970s food revolution. Game is served at many restaurants, and in some parts of Russia, particularly in the south and in areas that used to form part of the Soviet Union, more exotic alternatives include horse and even bear.