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Lesson Transcript

Oksana: Всем привет! Hello everyone! I'm Oksana and welcome to RussianPOD101.
Eddie: And I`m Eddie. This is All about Lesson 11 - Eating Habits in Russia. With us, you'll learn to speak Russian with fun and effective lessons.
Oksana: We also provide you with cultural insights...
Eddie: ...and tips that you won't find in a textbook.
Oksana: Today in this RussianPod101 lesson we are going to look at eating habits in Russia and describe how things have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Eddie: The best part is that we’re even going to give you a recipe so you can eat like a Russian! Fabulous!
Oksana: We haven’t even started and you’re already sounding enthusiastic Eddie.
Eddie: Absolutely! So, let’s begin.
Oksana: OK, well, as you may have guessed, eating habits in Russia have really changed over the past two decades.
Eddie: What’s extraordinary is that during the Soviet time,most food was produced within the Soviet Union itself and hardly any food was imported from elsewhere.
Oksana: Can you imagine?
Eddie: Unless you’ve experienced it I’m not sure you can.
Oksana: What compounds it is that there was very little contact with foreign countries, so as a result, Russian cuisine was the only thing people knew. Even pizza, that we all know and love, only became well-known in Russia in the nineties.
Eddie: No pizza! That just isn’t right is it? And of course, the same applies to Chinese or Japanese food. All of which were totally unfamiliar to most people in the former Soviet Union.
Oksana: All this changed after the fall of the Soviet Union in the nineties. The borders were opened and a lot of foreign food was imported.
Eddie: Boris Yeltsin’s government even encouraged foreign food import rather than local produce.
Oksana: Talk about going from one extreme to the other.
Eddie: At the same time this is when many people started going abroad and discovering foreign food.
Oksana: The first McDonalds restaurant opened in Moscow in 1990 and people were travelling from all over the Moscow region to visit it as it was something totally new and exciting.
Eddie: Would you like fries with that?
Oksana: With what?
Eddie: McDonalds, that’s what you’re asked when you order something.
Oksana: I thought everything comes with fries?
Eddie: Well, milkshakes don’t!
Oksana: *groan* Eddie, you’re being pedantic!
Eddie: Erm... thanks!
Oksana: Asian, French and Italian restaurants started appearing everywhere. Consequently, modern Russian cuisine is an interesting mixture of traditional Russian cuisine with a strong foreign influence.
Eddie: Traditional Russian cuisine is very rich. Don’t bother going to Russia if you’re trying to lose weight!
Oksana: Butter, meat, dairy products, eggs and cereal are staple foods.
Eddie: Though many vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage and cucumbers are very common and an integral part of many typical Russian dishes so it isn’t all bad.
Oksana: Yes, as with most things, everything in moderation.
Eddie: So let’s look at how Russians structure their meals.
Oksana: Well, most people have three meals- breakfast, an afternoon meal and an evening meal.
Eddie: Yes, the afternoon meal is usually taken later than in most western countries, at around 2 to 3pm.
Oksana: The evening meal is also quite late because most people don’t finish work until 7 or 8 pm, if not later, and that doesn’t take into account a probable long journey home.
Eddie: In the Soviet Union a typical breakfast used to consist of porridge. Breakfast cereal that we are used to in the West has only become popular more recently.
Oksana: Porridge was considered ideal food for children and still is very popular today even though many kids hate it!
Eddie: Can you blame them? Where are the Cheerios or Pop-tarts?
Oksana: Nowadays people usually have a coffee or tea and a small sandwich. This is called, “бутерброд” which comes from the German meaning “bread and butter”.
Eddie: So coffee and bread and butter for breakfast? What about an egg McMuffin?
Oksana: Let’s keep focused Eddie!
Eddie: Would you like fries with that?
Oksana: Stop it! Now, “бутерброд” is actually misleading as it conjures up images of bread and butter. Yet the reality is that a typical Russian sandwich usually consists of bread and a slice cheese or sausage.
Eddie: That’s more like it!
Oksana: I thought you wanted Cheerios?
Eddie: No no... need to be authentic as we’re talking about Russian food. So is the bread like regular wheat bread?
Oksana: Well, there are two types of bread commonly eaten in Russia. Wheat bread as you have mentioned, called “белый хлеб” which literally means “white bread”.
Eddie: Good translation!
Oksana: Then there is rye bread, “чёрный хлеб” literally “black bread”.
Eddie: That makes sense too.
Oksana: A typical afternoon meal used to consist of three dishes- a soup, “первое” which was like the starter, a main dish “второе” like the main course, then finally the dessert- “третье”.
Eddie: That was then. Nowadays though not many people have soup for every meal even though they are a very important part of Russian culture.
Oksana: The most common Russian soups include “борщ” which is like a soup made from beets, or beetroot as they say in Britain.
Eddie: Then there’s “щи” which is a kind of cabbage soup.
Oksana: And also “окрошка” that is a cold vegetable soup.
Eddie: I’m getting hungry already! What about the main dishes?
Oksana: Typical main courses are things like “пельмени” which is a type of meat ravioli, this is a typical Tatar dish that became extremely popular in Russia.
Eddie: Then there’s “котлеты” which are meatballs made of minced meat mixed with bread that has been soaked in milk.
Oksana: All sounds great. I’m starting to get hungry now.
Eddie: Now, along with your main dish you’ll typically have potatoes, either boiled or fried.
Oksana: Do YOU want fries with that, Eddie?
Eddie: I asked for that! So what about if you don’t eat meat? Is Russia a vegetarian’s nightmare?
Oksana: Not really, there are non-meat dishes such as “блины” which are pancakes, and also “вареники” that are Ukrainian dumplings with different fillings.
Eddie: That sounds really good, I just love dumplings. And for dessert?
Oksana: For dessert it’s very common to have tea with some cake, cookies or chocolates.
Eddie: This just sounds fabulous!
Oksana: OK, let’s give you a great piece of advice when visiting Russia or having dinner with Russian hosts.
Eddie: I know this one as it nearly caught me out. Salads, right!
Oksana: Yes that’s right.
Eddie: It’s a salad, but not as we know it!
Oksana: Russian salads are very different from Western salads. If you order a salad in a Russian restaurant and expect to see some lettuce and vegetables on your plate then you better think again!
Eddie: Yes, typical Russian salads include boiled vegetables such as potatoes and beets, meat, pickles, boiled eggs… and not a lettuce leaf in sight!
Oksana: Typical dressings are mayonnaise, sour cream and oil and common spices are dill and parsley.
Eddie: I know of that typical Russian salad called “салат Оливье” which is boiled potatoes and carrots, meat, pickled cucumbers, boiled eggs, green peas and mayonnaise. Not an olive in sight in spite what its name seems to suggest!
Oksana: Russian salads are not usually considered part of everyday cuisine because they often take so long to prepare so you’ll usually see them for parties and festivities.
Eddie: Like many European countries, there is no exact recipe for a typical Russian dish.
Oksana: That’s right. Each family has its own traditions and ways of making things handed down through generations.
Eddie: And this also gets varied again in different areas.
Oksana: And yet there are just few basic ingredients that always stay the same.
Eddie: OK, let’s have a recipe!
Oksana: Shchi which is cabbage soup. May sound bland but keep listening. Russians are much more imaginative than most Westerners that just boil it.
Eddie: Yes, Russians have been eating this dish for many centuries, and you can see it mentioned in many Russian sayings and proverbs.
Oksana: It really is an integral part of Russian culture. Some recipes call for fresh cabbage and some use pickled cabbage. Choose whichever you prefer.
Eddie: Some versions also contain meat while others don’t.
Oksana: What are the ingredients, Eddie?
Eddie: OK they are-
3 or 4 average potatoes
300g of fresh cabbage
250g of mushrooms (you can use any mushrooms)
1 average sized onion
1 carrot
2 table spoons of tomato paste
1 large bay leaf or more to taste
and some seasoning
Oksana: Ingredients we can all get. So, the first thing to do is obviously wash all the vegetables, then peel the potatoes, then cut them into cubes, chop the cabbage, peel and chop the onion, grate the carrot and chop the mushrooms.
Eddie: Then get two and a half to three litres of salted water into a large pan or stewing pot and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes, bring to boil again, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Oksana: Whilst this is going on, fry the chopped onion in a frying pan with a little oil until it golden brown. Add the carrots and fry until soft, add salt to taste then set aside in a separate dish.
Eddie: Then in that same frying pan fry the mushrooms and add a little seasoning to taste then add the mushrooms to the onions and carrots previously set aside. I can smell it already!
Oksana: Now get the cabbage in the frying pan too and fry with a little pepper, the bay leaf and some water from the stewing pot until the cabbage becomes soft.
Eddie: Now add the onions, carrots and the mushrooms to the cabbage as well as the tomato paste. Mix everything and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Oksana: Add everything to the big pan with the potatoes and cook for about five minutes. Add more seasoning according to taste and remove from the heat and cover. You should leave it covered for at least an hour before serving.
Eddie: If you want to feel “Russian” you can add some sour cream into your plate too! And maybe a little vodka!
Oksana: Eddie, the recipe does NOT mention vodka!
Eddie: It doesn’t? I could have sworn you mentioned it.
Oksana: Nice try.
Eddie: As we previously mentioned, there are many variations of this recipe so feel free to experiment!
Oksana: That’s very true.
Eddie: So here we’ve taken a quick look at food in Russia, how it has changed since the end of the Soviet Union and yet in many ways, how it’s still the same.
Oksana: And that’s one of the things I love about Russia so much.
Eddie: Ok, that just about does it for today. Before we go, we want to tell you about a way to improve your pronunciation.
Oksana: The voice-recording tool!
Eddie: Yes, the voice-recording tool in the Premium Learning Center...
Oksana: Record your voice with a click of a button,
Eddie: ...and then play it back just as easily.
Oksana: So you can record your voice and then listen to it.
Eddie: Compare it to the native speakers...
Oksana: ...and adjust your pronunciation!
Eddie: This will help you to improve your pronunciation really fast!
Eddie: By for now!
Oksana: Всем пока!