Cuisine of Nizhny Part I: Soups, Salads, and Bread

Apart from the more familiar western foods that can be found in Nizhny Novgorod, a host of traditional Russian dishes can be both served in restaurants or via hosts. This blog post will focus on some of the dishes and food staples that may be found in not only Nizhny, but in Russia as a whole. I’m going to first start off with bread. Of course, you can get bread in restaurants or from grocery stores back in the west, but it doesn’t play nearly as integral role in our culture as it does in Russia, Ukraine, and in other Eastern European nations. Bread can be viewed as the cornerstone of Russian cuisine. One of the most appealing things about bread in Russia is that it is extremely cheap and can be served during any meal. Restaurants have even offered baskets of bread for as low as 6 roubles, and considering the exchange rate being roughly 30 roubles per USD, that’s incredibly cheap. It’s also good to note that the average type of bread in Russia is typically more on the dark/rye side than white bread we commonly find here That’s not to say, however, that that’s the only kind of bread available. You can still find things like baguettes and sourdough bread. The salads in Nizhny are fairly similar towards ours, the only difference being the emphasis on certain ingredients. I’ve come to notice that a lot of salads served in Nizhny tend to skimp of the lettuce and focus more on the core ingredients of what make a salad unique. These ingredients often include beets, eggs, peas, and mayonnaise. This combination may seem fairly disgusting to westerners, but truth be told, these ingredients blend exceptionally well together; particularly the beets with mayo! Soup also plays a vital role in both Nizhny cuisine and Russian cuisine as a whole. Probably the most widely recognized soup of all is borsht. Truth be told, this dish actually originates from the Ukraine, but it’s regularly featured in Nizhny Novgorod and in Eastern European cuisine itself. Борщ (borshch) is a type of soup that consists primarily of beetroot along with other ingredients. The standard image of borsht that is conjured up by the west is a bland, cold pot of beet-broth. Though borsht may be served cold, it is oftentimes served warm along with other ingredients such as meat, cabbage, potatoes, and a signature dollop of sour cream. When prepared correctly, it can be one of the most delicious meals on the planet. As of these past few weeks, I can safely say that borsht has made a permanent home in my heart. There are more soups than just borsht in Nizhny, however. Another favorite of mine is a dish that’s just about as old as Russia itself: щи (shchi). This cabbage soup can be served with a hodgepodge of ingredients and has been a staple of Russian cuisine for centuries. To name a few more, there’s окрошка (okroshka) which I can only describe as a soup-salad, and there’s солянка (solyanka) which is a hot soup that can be served with anything from olives to capers. There are many, many more types of soup you can try in Nizhny, and I whole heatedly encourage you to go out and try them yourselves! In my next blog post, I’ll focus more on entres, desserts, the famous blinis, and possibly beverages.
Beet salad.

Beet salad.

Shchi.

Shchi.

Cold borsht.

Cold borsht.

Bread basket.

Bread basket.

Pea salad.

Pea salad.

Okroshka.

Okroshka.

Baguette.

Baguette.

Rye bread.

Rye bread.

ssb9

Hot borsht (probably the best soup I've ever had).

Hot borsht (probably the best soup I’ve ever had).

Beat salad with mayo.

Beat salad with mayo.

–Max Parker

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