So for this week's list, I wanted to do a counter argument to the list I made about the most disgusting Russian foods. Because, honestly, the Russians make some absolutely amazing dishes that are seriously going to make me bedridden with obesity such that I'll have to be brought to the hospital via crane.
1. Tea. Russians never do anything without first letting it "steep" for a while in a cup of hot tea (see what I did there?). EVERY meal is ended with tea. And at first, I was sort of indifferent, because honestly, tea? I honestly thought it was really dumb, especially growing up with my parents always having decaf coffee after dinner. Now, I can't even believe my parents with their stupid decaf. "Seriously? Decaf? What's the point?" I mutter at them with my nose up in the air.
2. Borscht. Without borscht, I wouldn't have been able to name this blog something awesome. I was always skeptical about borscht, especially given that I'm not a beet lover, but there's something about the way that it's all put together with the cabbage, the beef, and the beets (not to mention pouring a mountain of sour cream in the soup) that makes me as crazy as a preteen girl at a Bieber concert.
3. Shashlik. I've discussed this before, but I've gotta mention it again because it's so imperative to my survival. Grilled pork butt. It's outstanding, and I've got a delicious man-crush on whoever created this non-gross method of eating butt.
4. Pirogi. You can't screw these up. It seems like whatever you put in a pirogi makes it the most delicious pirogi ever created. Eggs, bacon, meat, rice, vegetables, cherries, onions, whatever it is, they're outstanding. And the great part is that every family has a different recipe, so you've gotta try everyone's, and they're always competing for room in your stomach, which I can't complain about.
5. Golubtsy. I never heard of these before, but it's essentially beef and rice wrapped in cabbage, all boiled. Sounds a bit gross, and for those of you who don't like boiled vegetables, this wouldn't be for you (my wife is of your camp). But throw half a can of sour cream on top, and I'm living in "oh my god" land where all they play is James Brown. These are excellent.
6. Olivie - This is the quintessential Russian Salad, and like pirogis, every family has their own recipe. For my in-laws, they do potatoes, pickles, bologna, and eggs, all nearly swimming in mayonnaise. But there are families who do it with chicken, or who add carrots, or any number of variations. If it were up to me, we'd substitute our bed for a giant bowl of olivie and eat while we sleep. Yeah, it's that good.
7. Salads. Russians don't believe in lettuce. I mean, some will use a tiny bit, but normally, Russian salads are nothing like American salads, which are usually 90% lettuce. When my wife and her family make salads, they're made of two cucumbers, two tomatoes, and half an onion. And that's it. Also, they don't believe in any salad dressing other than oil and vinegar. I used to be annoyed by the whole "no dressing" thing, but now, there's nothing better on a hot summer night than one of these light and delicious salads made with just the best parts of the salads.
8. Napoleon. Oh god, Russians do desserts right. And this particular cake is the best cake I think I've ever had. The only problem: it takes 2 days to make. Essentially, it's a cake made of both sour cream and whipped cream, with maybe 25 or 30 paper thin layers with the cream smothered in between each layer. In the end, it's about eight or nine inches tall (depending on how many layers you make) and it lasts about thirty seconds. Once you put it on the table, it's a madhouse. I've personally lost two fingers to Napoleon related injuries.
9. Dill. An herb the Americans give little attention to that the Russians will put on ANYTHING. I don't blame them though, it adds a seriously fresh and amazing aroma and taste that I think a lot of American foods are missing.
10. Zharkoye. This is a strange dish, and is sort of the Russian version of the spanish paella. It's chicken wings (or some other meat, but my in-laws use chicken wings) braised with a magical sauce of carrots, onions, and water - all mixed in with potatoes. I still have no idea how it's done, even though I've helped make it dozens of times. All I know is that it's outstanding.
So if you're ever able to get access to a Russian household, please, please, please ask for these ten things - I promise you that you won't be disappointed.