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Video: Eating habits in tsarist Russia that frightened foreigners
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
Ambassadors from other countries invited to the feast found themselves in an atmosphere, to put it mildly, exotic for them. And tradition, and the variety of cuisine they were sometimes put into a stupor. The fact that the taste preferences of the representatives of different peoples are different led to a reluctance to try some Russian dishes.
Foreigners often refused to eat for another reason. For example, due to the fact that several people could eat directly with their hands, and even from a common plate.
1. From the king's table
For a long time there was a custom in Russia. Within its framework, as a sign of mercy and special respect to the guest, the sovereign sent the remnants of the dishes that he had already tasted. All the noble gentlemen present at the event hoped that they would also be among the chosen ones.
But the ambassadors did not share their enthusiasm and were very happy when the ceremony became purely symbolic. Offerings, of course, were, but only in the form of dishes that were simply on the table at the sovereign, and not leftovers. The same situation was with drinks. The king, having sipped the wine from the goblet, passed it on.
Drinks at royal feasts were also abundant. Vodka, beer, honey and kvass were offered in such quantities that guests fell senseless under the table. Often, alcoholic beverages infused with various herbs were served just before meals for appetite. In Russia, it was believed that a feast is good if the guests not only overate themselves with food, but also get drunk.
Foreigners got the most of the rest. They did not have the appropriate "training" in this sense.
An unpleasant situation happened with the Czech ambassador in 1503. He got so drunk that he lost consciousness and was seriously hurt. He came to himself for several more days, lying in bed. Another curiosity happened in 1656. Then the members of the Roman embassy delegation suffered from alcohol. They got drunk to the point of insanity even before they presented presents and credentials to the sovereign.
Almost all dishes and sometimes even drinks were seasoned with garlic. And if the Russians were satisfied with everything, then the foreigners disgusted the pungent smell and specific taste.
As for such a universal love of Russian chefs not only for garlic, but also for onions, it could be partially explained by their excellent preservative properties. Their addition to dishes made it possible to increase the shelf life of the latter.
In those years, butter was a standard product, but only overheated so that it could be stored longer. There were no refrigerators. The cream was reheated in an oven, the oily mass was removed from it, whipped, washed in water and the finished product was obtained.
What was not used in the preparation of food was processed again the next day according to the described scheme. We did this until the oil was completely used up. As a result, it acquired bitterness. And if the Russians, due to the abundance of onions and garlic, did not notice this aftertaste, the foreigners immediately felt the nasty smell of burnt butter with bitterness.
5. Unflavored dishes
In Russia, all dishes were served unflavored. Different ingredients were put to them: sour milk, vinegar, salt and pepper, pickled plums and cucumbers. Everyone added what they liked best. Naturally, foreigners could not appreciate this approach and did not understand how it can be eaten and what is delicious about it.
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