Table of contents:
- What determines the gastronomic preferences of different northern peoples
- Taiga zone of Central Siberia and Sayan
- Taiga zone of the Far East south of Chukotka
- Northwest Siberia
Video: Strange and unusual cuisine of the small peoples of the Russian north
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
Many inhabitants of the central zone or southern regions of Russia imagine the North as some kind of endless snowy expanses, where only Chukchi roaming on deer live. In fact, this region is colorful and multifaceted. As well as about 40 peoples and ethnic groups inhabiting it. All of them have their own customs, traditions, rituals, as well as a kind of northern cuisine.
What do the different peoples inhabiting the Russian North eat, and what their gastronomic preferences primarily depend on - this is what this article is about.
What determines the gastronomic preferences of different northern peoples
The harsh climatic conditions force many peoples of the North, who lead their traditional way of life, established for centuries, to completely trust the nature around them. Northerners often live off the natural resources that are available in their natural habitat. At the same time, these resources provide absolutely all the needs of people: for housing, fuel, transport, clothing and, most importantly, for food.
Northerners get their food both from livestock raising and from hunting wild animals, fishing, as well as collecting delicacies and "semi-finished products" - wild plants and roots, bird eggs, algae and molluscs.
Thus, the diet of the peoples of the North directly depends on long-term traditions passed down from generation to generation and on the natural resources of their habitat. What do residents of different northern regions of Russia eat?
Taiga zone of Central Siberia and Sayan
The main indigenous inhabitants of the taiga zone of Central Siberia are 2 Tungus-speaking peoples - the Evens and the Evenks. And if the majority of Evens live "compactly" in the Far Eastern regions, then the Evenk's habitat is wider. They live in the vastness of the Siberian taiga from the Taimyr Peninsula to Sakhalin. At the same time, by and large, the economy of both these peoples is quite similar.
Reindeer helped both Evens and Evenks to settle and very successfully live in such wide taiga spaces. However, unlike the inhabitants of the more northern tundra regions, reindeer breeders of the Siberian taiga feed not so much the deer as the surrounding nature. Ungulates play the role of "standard" transport in these regions - Evens and Evenks most often ride them.
However, one of the most "strategic" for the inhabitants of these regions is the product they receive from their animals - reindeer milk. From the Sayan Mountains and further southward, in addition to deer, horses, goats, sheep, cows, yaks, and even camels begin to predominate in herds of nomadic shepherds. Like their northern neighbors, southerners also make extensive use of animal milk in their cooking.
Milk is consumed in many ways. It is frozen or boiled down to a thick jelly. Cheese is made from milk, which is then eaten with suttet-tsai - milk tea. Also, during cooking, local berries and herbs are added to milk: cloudberries, wild garlic, wild onions, reindeer lichen, etc. Naturally, the kitchen cannot do without hunting meat. Traditionally, it is fried over a fire or boiled.
From parts of game, brains, kidneys and tongue are considered delicacies for the inhabitants of this Siberian taiga region. Previously, quite often the local peoples ate them raw, but now they still prefer preliminary heat treatment. Fish caught in numerous streams and lakes are prepared in the same way as meat.
Lapland is an area that covers the northern European territories of Norway, Sweden, Finland, as well as the Russian part of the Kola Peninsula. The main indigenous people living in Lapland are the Sami. Or, as they used to be called in Russia, "Lapps". The main sources of food for this people were the gathering of edible berries, mushrooms and roots, as well as hunting, fishing and reindeer herding.
The Sami methods of cooking meat and fish are the same as those of the inhabitants of the Siberian taiga. In addition, venison and fish were often dried here and used as natural "canned food" on long hunting trips. About a century and a half ago, Europeans brought flour here. Since then, the Sami have considered it almost "their dish" and are sure to use it as a batter for frying fish and meat.
Since real flour is still in short supply here, the locals have learned to make it from pine sapwood. Dried it was ground and added to flour. Often this "powder" was used instead of flour. Herbal teas can be considered a traditional drink of the Sami. Often tea was also made from dried chaga mushrooms. Locals consider it to be tonic and tonic for the whole body.
Bear meat was a real delicacy for the Sami. Like venison, it was fried, boiled, dried and dried. In ancient times, a hunter who caught a "clubfoot" had the honor of being the first to eat the most delicious part of the carcass in the opinion of the Sami - raw bear liver. Deer tongue and bone marrow were also eaten raw.
Taiga zone of the Far East south of Chukotka
Despite the fact that these territories are inhabited mainly by reindeer herding peoples, one of the most popular food products here is fish. They eat it both fried or boiled, and fermented. Such fish is prepared in the same way as in Sweden "surstremming". Naturally, not every visitor or tourist can eat or even try such a delicacy. But for the locals, fermented fish is quite an ordinary product.
Another fish delicacy, yukola, is much more popular. This is a dried-dried fish fillet. By the way, venison is often used as a "raw material" for yukola. Yukola is eaten both as a separate dish and as a “meat dressing” for broths.
On the Pacific coast, the peoples living in this region have for centuries relied heavily on passing sea fish and mammals that live in coastal waters for food. Thus, among the Nivkhs one of the delicacies, and even in some cases a ritual dish, was "mos" or "mos" - a fat rich jelly made from fish skin. The Nivkhs also widely consumed the meat of sea mammals: seals and whales.
One of the most famous dishes of the peoples inhabiting Chukotka is fermented meat. In Chukchi it is called "kymgyt", but most people know it by its Eskimo name - "kopalhen". Despite the assertion that it is supposedly "rotten meat", kopalchen is most likely pickled meat. The preparation of the above-mentioned Swedish "surstremming" is approximately the same. And in Russia - "Pechora" or "Zyryansk" fish salting.
Naturally, such a dish without habit can hardly even be tried. Although locals and even many tourists eat kopalchen with pleasure. Rumors about its "lethality" for the unaccustomed are most likely exaggerated - you can hardly die from a small piece of such pickled meat. The most that a tourist can expect after tasting Copalchen is an upset stomach. If, of course, the gag reflex generally allows you to swallow a hot piece of this "delicacy".
In addition to Kopalhen, the main "food suppliers" for the indigenous inhabitants of Chukotka have always been deer and marine mammals. Moreover, the harsh conditions taught the locals to use their food supplies to the maximum. Everything was eaten here: skin, bone marrow, tendons and other parts of animal carcasses. Among the "most-most" delicacies of the Chukotka peoples, one can distinguish "wilmullirlkyril" (soup made from giblets and deer blood), "mantak" (whale lard with skin), as well as the raw eyes of a seal.
Even at the present time, the nomadic peoples living in the North-West of Siberia, everywhere eat raw meat and animal blood. This custom is not so much a certain archaism as a compulsory measure to prevent scurvy. The main dish of raw reindeer meat with blood is called "ngabyte" by the Nenets. They eat it as follows: first, pieces of raw meat or animal organs are dipped into the blood, then they are bitten by their teeth and near them are cut from the bottom up with a knife.
In this case, the blood of the animal can also be simply drunk. If we talk about the parts of the "ngabyte" that the Nenets consider a delicacy, it is primarily the liver and kidneys. Also tasty (according to the northerners) are the deer pancreas, trachea, bone marrow from the legs, as well as the lower lip and tongue. The Nenets do not eat the eyes and the tip of the tongue of a reindeer at all, and the heart is eaten only in boiled form.
In addition to cooking, another method of heat treatment of meat among northerners is freezing. Frozen meat and fish (for example, stroganin) in the northern cold are much easier for the human body to digest than raw ones.
As for drinks, the main thing among the Nenets (however, like many other northern peoples) is tea. Moreover, it can be called a kind of symbol of northern hospitality. After all, any traveler can easily, without an invitation, enter the home of a local hunter, where he will be immediately given a strong and aromatic tea made from berries and herbs.
Living in harmony with the environment allowed the inhabitants of the North not only to withstand the harsh climatic conditions and survive on this God-forsaken land, but also to settle in the endless expanses of taiga and tundra. Competently using everything that nature gave them, the northerners proved by their example that a person can be not only a "formidable king", but also a real crown of her creation.
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