According to foreigners, Russians like to cook a lot of food – often many times more than they can eat. A must-have ingredient in popular dishes is mayonnaise. At first it seems strange to tourists that the hosts may be offended if the guests do not eat everything that they put on the plate. People visiting Russia will also note that an impressive amount of canned goods is stored in the houses of the Russians: they packed refrigerators and pantries. Why do Russians love cooking and does this fact apply to each of them?
Not every Russian love cooking
Just like any other popular facts about Russian, the love of cooking is not a trait that can be equally entitled to all of them – especially in the modern days. However, in 2017, a study showed that Russians began to buy pasta, sauces and spices more often, which indicates a growing interest in home-cooked dishes. For the year, sales of culinary products in the country were ahead of the market average: sales of pasta grew by 3.5%, sauces by 4.9%, and spices by 2.2%. Olive and sunflower oil also began to buy 33.9% more. In total, sales of these products are second only to the categories of baby food and animal feed. Experts attribute the increase in sales and, as a result, the interest of consumers in home cooking with the relocation of part of leisure activities outside of home for economy reasons.
Another study, on the other hand, showed that more and more Russians chose to buy their meals rather than cooking them. The study was limited to residents of cities with a population of 100,000 or more aged 18-40 years who use food delivery services regularly (that is, at least once a month).
The first conclusion was: most often food delivered to houses was ordered by residents of large cities and megacities. They claimed to be too busy and have the least time to cook. In addition, the regular customers of delivery services are not only bachelors. More precisely, they are mainly people who live with families. Contrary to expectations, it turned out that the number of men and women among those ordering ready-made food is about the same (49% and 51%, respectively). Moreover, among those who order food, there are twice as many married as unmarried (67% of respondents versus 33%), 51% with children under 18.
The study showed that in most cases, internet users (90% of respondents) order food to their homes. Most often this does not require any special reason – just too lazy to cook (62% of respondents). Nevertheless, 37% take food to their homes in connection with a special event, 23% to have a meal in the office, and 18% during an unexpected visit of guests. Most users of online delivery services are concentrated in Moscow. In general, in Russian cities, 33% of respondents order food online at least once a month.
The relationship between Russians and their kitchens
For people in Russia, a kitchen is not only about dishes and recipes. The concept is broader. All product diversity can be divided into three large groups: natural products – that are grown and cultivated, gastronomic products – something that can be used in food with only minimal cooking and culinary products – that need to be thoroughly cooked. The second category is the most interesting and, perhaps, more in line with the tradition of the nation. There is a variety of primary processed products such as stock fish, jams, cheeses, lard, butter, ham, sausages, lactic acid products (fermented baked milk, yogurt) and the like.
Domestic gastronomic products are often used as the ingredients in Russian kitchens. This would turn out being cabbage soup with sauerkraut, pea soup with smoked brisket, pies with jam. Food processing technologies are important in Russia and native to the national cuisine. The most obvious example is the Russian oven, which allows you to simmer ingredients for many hours in a row at a relatively low temperature. Quite alike to slow cooker. There are other methods such as the pickling of cabbage, the soaking of apples, and the drying of fish. The type and nature of foods are also variables that make some Russians feel like they have to do the cooking themselves. The predominance of animal fats, wheat, the presence of homogeneous salads and the widespread use of offal give the authentic dishes an original character. Finally, the customs of serving dishes. This is important and must be done correctly especially when featured in a feast like sour cream in soups, horseradish for smoked fish, boiled potatoes with vegetable oil, herring with onions, and salmon with lemon.
Russians cook because they care for nutrition
Of course, looking at the point mentioned above about how people in large cities start to choose food delivery service over cooking at home, this explanation – again – applies only for a part of Russians, especially them living in suburban or smaller cities. They who love cooking usually care more about the food they take and want to make sure getting the right amount of needed nutrition every day.
Eating habit of Russians include starting the day with porridge, traditionally made from buckwheat cereal. The lunch should be opened with soup. The Russians believe that the stomach works well, precisely when liquid and hot food gets into it before anything heavy. Soup with meatballs, beetroot soup, as well as traditional cabbage soup, borscht or pickle are the usual choices. Authentic Russian cuisine also calls for the main ingredients to be stewed or baked, not fry. This is why they choose to cook at home to make sure the food they eat is done right. These are some of the reasons why Russians love cooking, other than the fact that they love hosting lunch and dinner.