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Breakfast in Russia and a brief culture trip to 1978 Posted by on Nov 10, 2021 in Food, Russian life, Uncategorized

Dear Russian Language Blog,

I’m writing to you from the comfort of my desk, where, as always, I am dreaming about the breakfast that, unfortunately, I did not have time this morning to eat. To eat, to eat. But what can one expect to eat for breakfast in Russia?

бутербро́д sandwich

Open faced sandwiches with meat and cheese are popular throughout Europe, and Russia is no exception. Usually they are topped with a slice of колбаса́ sausage and сыр cheese. Sometimes you can spread some паште́т pâté on the top. However, since it is open faced, remember the advice given by Кот Матроскин in the popular 1978 Soviet animated film «Тро́е из Простоква́шино» Three from Prostokvashino:

Непра́вильно ты, дя́дя Фёдор, бутербро́д ешь. Ты его́ колбасо́й кве́рху де́ржишь, а на́до колбасо́й на язы́к класть, так вкусне́е полу́чится.1You’re eating your buterbrod incorrectly, Uncle Fyodor. You’re holding it with the sausage facing up, but you have to put the sausage on your tongue, it’s tastier that way.

блины́ bliny

What could be more Russian than a towering stack of light, buttery bliny on a Sunday morning? These, if you are unfamiliar, are similar to what we know as crepes, and are usually prepared with a runny batter poured directly onto a hot сковоро́дка frying pan. Don’t worry if your first one does not turn out – it isn’t supposed to. In fact, there is a Russian saying Пе́рвый блин – ко́мом The first blin comes out as a lump, which means that an unsuccessful beginning to something is completely understandable, something akin to “practice makes perfect.” The first blin effectively absorbs excess oil and seasons the pan for subsequent blins.

The verb we usually use is печь блины́ to bake bliny, but I have also seen the word жа́рить to fry used for this purpose.

Моя́ ба́бушка всегда́ пекла́ вку́сные блины́ на Ма́сленицу.2My grandmother always baked delicious bliny for Maslenitsa.

I suppose the heat source doesn’t totally matter for this verb, but, then again, what do we say in English for this? To grill pancakes?

Фото автора cottonbro: Pexels

Блины́ are usually created with a different base each time. There are блины́ на молоке́ bliny made from milk, блины́ на воде́, bliny made from water, блины́ на кефи́ре bliny made from kefir, or even блины́ на сы́воротке bliny made from whey. They can be eaten plain (my favorite), but also with the following additions: со смета́ной with sour cream, с икро́й with caviar, с мя́сом with meat, с тво́рогом with tvorog, с варе́ньем with fruit preserves, со сгущёнкой with sweetened condensed milk, с гриба́ми with mushrooms, or really with whatever you’d like.

A similar dish to bliny is ола́дьи, which are also “baked” on a frying pan, but usually from a thicker, дрожжево́е те́сто leavened batter and resulting in little pucks of fried deliciousness. They can be served with whatever you would like, but I like them with варе́нье.

яи́чница fried eggs

The ultimate protein-packed bachelor breakfast comes to you straight from the холоди́льник refrigerator! Just crack a few eggs into your pan and let them fry. It’s especially good if you let the bottom burn a little bit, but always serve sunny-side up. Be sure to place a sprig of укро́п dill on top of each желто́к yolk for a dainty touch to your weekday morning meal.

Of course, the verb used with яи́чница is жа́ритьжа́рить яи́чницу. As Verochka from the iconic 1978 film «Служе́бный рома́н» Office Romance said to her boyfriend over the phone (taking personal phone calls at work, I guess) with whom she had broken up with the day before:

Ме́жду про́чим, ты сего́дня жа́рил яи́чницу на мое́й сковоро́дке и забы́л её помы́ть по́сле себя́.3By the way, today you fried eggs in my frying pan and forgot to wash it after you were done.

(Watch 0:17 to 0:27)

ка́ша porridge

This is a popular choice for serving children, especially in school. Many are given ма́нная ка́ша semolina porridge, which is cooked with milk. If you are lucky you will get some sugar and maybe even some raisins in it. It is served hot with a slab of butter placed in the middle. The крупа́ grains of semolina are very fine and therefore create a pudding-like texture when cooked in milk.

Which one of these do you like most of all? Is there anything you would like to try?

  • 1
    You’re eating your buterbrod incorrectly, Uncle Fyodor. You’re holding it with the sausage facing up, but you have to put the sausage on your tongue, it’s tastier that way.
  • 2
    My grandmother always baked delicious bliny for Maslenitsa.
  • 3
    By the way, today you fried eggs in my frying pan and forgot to wash it after you were done.
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