7 Russian Dishes Worth Celebrating

Julia Lipnitskaia, Russian figure skater. Photo by David W. Carmichael. Gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis during his race. Photo by M. Smelter.

Julia Lipnitskaia, Russian figure skater. Photo by David W. Carmichael. Gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis, Dutch speed skater, during his race. Photo by M. Smelter.

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the press’ coverage of the Olympics – it feels like the popular kids ganging up on the ‘outsiders’. While I don’t expect everything in the press to be all to be sunshine and rainbows, mean-spirited articles and blog posts whose primary goal has been to “poke fun” of the culture and people is a failure – a total disregard for the true purpose of the Olympics.

We deserve more. They deserve better.

The Olympics are a time to step up and celebrate each other – our athletes, our talents, that thing called dreams realized.  I recently read a fairly negative article about the food in Sochi, with interviewees calling their food experiences “bland” and “different” (citing the pervasiveness of cow tongue on the restaurant menus as a negative), with “McDonald’s as a best friend”. To be fair, the author did come around by the end of the article and cite a few decent meal reviews.

Still, the time has come: someone needs to focus on the good.

Let’s be real: it is all too easy to rely on McDonald’s while traveling.

It’s safe. Familiar. But what would travel be like if we decided that relying on the familiar is not an option? After all, going to places we’re already know only keeps us from the real food at our fingertips – food we might otherwise grow to love.

I challenge anyone who thinks the food of Russia is “bland” to try it again.


Here are 7 foods beloved in Russia that you’ll love, too. 


1. Caviar & Creamy Eggs

The salty pop of caviar over creamy eggs is an unforgettable experience. Even if you’re not keen on caviar, you’ll love how the eggs are made – it’s a revelation! (Recipe).


2. Oladyi

Plump oladyi is the way to wake up, Russian-style. When they’re made with the sweet smack of pumpkin? Ah-mazing. (Recipe)

3. Olivier Salad

This is the best potato salad you’ve never had, including ham, carrots, peas, gherkins, and hard-boiled eggs. Far from bland, this is a meal in one! (Recipe)

4. Vinagret

Or maybe you’d prefer to sample the other best potato salad you’ve never had – Vinagret, complete with sauerkraut and very pink beets (also a big deal in Ukraine). (Recipe)


5. Stuffed Quince

Uh-oh, stuffed Quince with honey and nuts… talk about a classy and unusual dessert! We tried this for Uzbekistan, but it’s also common in Russia. Game over. (Recipe)


6. Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage? Hello. Love. We tried this amazing variation for Romania (Recipe)

7. Russian Tea

I challenge you to contemplate all this goodness with your very own cup of tea.

P.S. I bet you’ve never had tea with jam in it.  That’s pretty nifty, and it’s totally Russian. I dare you to try it. (Recipe)

P.P.S. I know, I know. You’re probably wondering where the borscht is. We made a version when we cooked Belarus. It’s a bit different from the Russian version, but since you insist, here ya go! (Recipe) And a slice of homemade rye to go with it, too. (Recipe)

There’s just a few days left to the Olympics.

Let’s get back in the spirit of things. I challenge you to make some yummy Russian food in honor of the athletes. Share pictures or leave us a happy, positive message in the comments, on our FB wall, Pinterest, or Twitter with #RussiaTastesGood. I’ll retweet and share when possible!






  1. That is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, I absolutely hate when people act like ignorant fools and criticize the food of a country simply because it is “different”.

    I honestly have to leave the room and go vent some place else, turn the TV off, scream at the walls… very irritating that people paid good money to cover the Olympics would go that route.

    Glad you composed this post, you are THE best person to do that, and I hope it gets very good exposure in the internet

    • Sasha Martin says

      As I tell my daughter, different is good, and acquired tastes have to be… acquired!

    • Samantha says

      I couldn’t agree more!! I guess some people just like to shut themselves out of a good experience… :/

  2. You are so right — I’ve been turning OFF the Olympics because the negative tone just smacks of righteous superiority. Thank you for this post — and for at least on the food front, providing another perspective. PS My two times in what was then the Soviet Union, we found fabulous food especially when paying in dollars at non-touristy places.

    • Sasha Martin says

      There’s a coffee shop I do a lot of work at – they have it on the TV with the volume off. I can watch the raw talent without any of the commentary – the perfect solution!

  3. Hummmm…tea with jam in it…when you’re shy sugar use jam ! Kinda makes me think of …when you are short on milk for cereal, use cranberry juice…(inside joke soon to be public) ha

  4. I spent a month in Russia and found the food to be wonderful! Looking forward to trying some of these recipes. Saw the ‘jam tea’ in many homes. The families I visited with used both sugar AND jam… talk about sweet!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Wow – awesome! Sipping sugary/jammy tea sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon… today!

  5. like I said..the opening ceremonies were spectacular…..every country came out smiling and the show was art in awesome…..so great…StTAY CALM and GO For GOLD-SILVER OR BRONZE…tee..hee…I ignore all the negative chatter…I so want ot visit russia..and say hello to the polar bear, leopard and hare..(the olympic mascots) so fun!!!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yes – the opening ceremonies are such fun… and the mascots are perfect for the season 🙂 I’ve always wanted to check out the onion domes, too.

      • elisa waller says

        so bizarre…we have been kinda thinking about the same things lately…and I have been catching you doing it too..lol..and this time I just sat down at work during my lunch to check the blog..and I read your post. Don’t cha know that I am drawing the beautiful bulbous shaped onion dome steeples with my kindergarten and fourth grade students…like totally..drawing them, then adding the “candy” colors with oil pastels..then doing a bright water colored wash over the pictures…so beautiful and in tune to your response to my response……Im thinking that I love you lots…Im guessing you love me too..tee..hee

        • Sasha Martin says

          Amazing that you’re drawing those now! I should do that with Ava – she’d love the bright colors. So beautiful! And, yes, I love you so much!

  6. Agree with you 100% Sasha. Yes Russia has problems but the US news reports frankly have been like sour grapes. The opening ceremony was very impressive and Yulia brought tears to my eyes at her sheer brilliance and grace. We can learn many things from the rest of the World, especially about being gracious visitors.

    Love than Russian tea concept. Wow. I think I like that. Of course stuffed cabbage is a favorite. I call it comfort food.

  7. The only reason to pay attention to the “negative chatter” is to be aware of what we need to be aware of …capice?! The reality is…positive and negative exist… in photography – in the human spirit – in nature…..

  8. The skewed reports on Russia are a sad commentary on US journalistic professionalism.

    When Good confronts Evil there is suffering…most people do not want to suffer hence avoid acknowledging that Evil exists…like sheep without a shepherd they wander in ignorant bliss until devoured by the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    Sorry, but once you have seen the face of Evil, and know it exists, it’s hard not to care about what happens to loved ones……

  9. I ran across your pin on Lonely Planet board and just had to check it out. Thank you so much for a positive post on Russian culture and food. I was born and raised there but have been living away for many years now. It pained me to hear malicious comments which unfortunately were coming mostly from the US. It’s so sad that we are back to broken relationships. Anyway, I just loved your Russian food lineup! I am a food blogger and although I don’t focus on Russian food exclusively I do love to add my childhood recipes now and then. 🙂

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