The Winter Olympics are in full swing and athletes from the world over have descended upon Sochi, Russia to compete for Gold Medals. Events such as the slalom, the luge and snowboarding freestyle take the main stage for those two action-packed weeks in February every four years. While in Russia, do as the Russians, right? Well, at least eat as the Russians.
Focused on making each of their homelands proud, these athletes need to build their strength with training regiments, exercise and a good diet. But, can they attain their maximum performance levels with the food there in Sochi, Russia?
Here are some main food staples in the Russian diet:
Blini: For breakfast, these little Russian Pancakes or crepes are stuffed with whipped cream, fruit and berries for a great way to start your day. Other variables include filling these Blinis with meat or curds. They are also called Blintz or blinchiki but still hold true to the pancake/crepe result. Eating these for breakfast helps with your carbohydrate loading early in the morning that enhances your Olympic workout during the day. Try this recipe to satisfy your Russian Blini craving: http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/appetizers/russian-blini/
Borsch: Russian Beet Soup, is actually from the Ukraine, but has made its way onto Russian dinner tables centuries ago. It was also very popular in the Eastern European countries such as Poland, Belarus and Romania. This Red Soup is mainly a beef vegetable soup with the addition of beets for richness and color. It can be served hot or cold and is topped off with a dollop of sour cream to add to the richness. The classic Russian Borch recipe is found here: http://masterrussian.com/russianrecipes/borsch.htm
Shashlik: This Russian Shish-kebob is composed of marinated pork, chicken or fish skewered and place directly over the hot coals. The marinade consists of an acidic component like lemon or vinegar to help break down the meat tissues. These are served with Tkemali, an herb based plum sauce that goes great with pork. Or a walnut Bazhe yogurt sauce for the chicken. The fish is accompanied by a tangy and smokey flavored grilled tomato sauce called a Satsebeli. Alongside of the sauces comes the Lavish or Russian flat bread to aide with the Neanderthal method of hand to mouth eating. Either way, these skewered and grilled hunks of meat are delicious. Check out some more recipes here: http://www.russlandjournal.de/en/recipes/grilling-and-bbq/
Bitochki: These lil’ bites of heaven are bread crumbed hamburger patties cooked in a wine sauce like gravy. Heavy cream and onion add to this rich and tasty dish. Although not very heart healthy conscience, they fill the bellies and provide necessary protein for your daily Olympic style workout. Try this recipe: http://www.ruscuisine.com/recipes/meat-dishes/n--356/
You can’t really go wrong with any of these dishes from Mother Russia. They are rich in flavor as well as rich in history. Not unlike the American cuisine, the Russian dinner table is filled with a combination of outsiders bringing in cultural dishes from their homelands to enrich and entice. They have evolved into great meals using local ingredients, basic utensils and an understanding of the cooking process. Each of which should be used in your kitchen on a daily basis as well.
Wishing our American athletes good luck and God speed in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t’ forget your bib.