Russian Language Blog

Russians VS Americans in the Battle of Sauerkraut, Pancakes, Sandwiches, Dumplings, and Hot Dogs. Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Culture, Russian for beginners, Traditions

Warm sauerkraut and kielbasa, a hot dog on a steamed bun with all the fixings, holiday ham straight from the oven, fluffy pancakes with syrup – there is definitely a certain way we eat these foods here in America. The way people eat the very same foods elsewhere can be vastly different. Is it any different in Russia? Read on to find out!

1. Let’s begin with sauerkraut, or кислая/квашенная капуста. If you offered this particular item to a Russian straight from the oven with kielbasa or on a hot sandwich, he would certainly find it odd. This is because Russian people eat sauerkraut cold, straight from the fridge. A lot of Russians make their own sauerkraut or buy locally made sauerkraut at the nearest farmer’s market. It is a very popular side dish: they add it to dinner, mix it in salads, or munch on it whenever. Homemade sauerkraut that has not been subjected to any type of thermal processing has a lot of beneficial bacteria in it; heating up or cooking sauerkraut kills all of that beneficial bacteria making sauerkraut nothing more than tangy overcooked cabbage. The exception to this rule in Russia is adding sauerkraut to soups, for flavor and texture. I am not a big fan of this practice myself but many Russians do it. 

2. Let’s move on to hot dogs or сосиски. In Russia this particular item is offered in a variety of sizes and meat compositions. It is worth mentioning that сосиски taste considerably less salty in Russia. The main difference, however, is in how they are consumed. In a Russian home сосиски are served without a bun most of the time. My favorite combo is mashed potatoes and сосиски. People also slice them and add them to vegetable stews and other dishes. The exception to this rule would be outdoor food vendors: they do sell traditional hot dogs with the buns and all the fixings.

3. Next up on the list are pancakes or блины. Russian pancakes are more like crepes – they are fairly large and thin. While Americans prefer their pancakes with butter and syrup, Russians frequently fill their блины with meat. Among the more popular fillings are minced chicken with mushrooms and farmer’s cheese and raisins. Serving блины with caviar is considered a delicacy.

4. My favorite “weird” food combo is coffee or tea with (open-faced) sandwiches or чай или кофе с бутербродами. Most popular sandwich toppings are butter, cheese, salami, bologna, ham, smoked salmon, canned wish, honey, and jelly. I have consumed these very sandwiches for breakfast for most of my life, always with tea or coffee. Tea or coffee go exceptionally well with sandwiches, ask any Russian! Russians can have tea/coffee with sandwiches at any time during the day.

5. Last but not least on this list are sweet dumplings or сладкие вареники. Dumplings are quite popular in the United States but I have yet to find sweet dumplings here. The fillings here are mostly centered around meat, cheese, and some types of veggies. Sweet dumplings or вареники are pretty common in Russia (more on Russian dumplings in this post). Most popular sweet fillings are fresh cherries, strawberries, or raspberries. Вареники are usually served with sour cream and sugar. Yummy for me – might be yucky for you.

It is amazing how essentially the same food items can be served so differently in different parts of the world. Culture and habits firmly take hold in our subconscious mind. Even thirteen years later I still don’t eat warm sauerkraut, don’t particularly care for American pancakes or traditional hotdogs. On the other hand, I did discover some new and very interesting dishes here in America but it is a topic for a separate post :-).

Всего хорошего!

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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. David:

    If you miss dumplings (pierogies) filled with fruit or ‘sweet cheese’, there is Polish store online that sells them. The store is in NJ and is called Piast. The do ship. They have sweet cheese (farmer’s cheese) and blueberry but I also think they have cherry and prune too.

    • Jenya:

      @David David, thank you very much for the tip! What I meant is I did not see sweet dumplings anywhere outside of my local Russian store (which is where I get them sometimes).