Sorry I missed this one Jennifer- here is the next special request blog! You might have noticed- I am approving all comments now and I will definately get your request if anyone else would like to put one in.....
Food in Russia
People in Russia eat the opposite of the way I eat with a huge breakfast, small lunch, and huge dinner. Usually my biggest meal of the day is lunch! All of our meals were home cooked, we didn't eat at a restaurant at all during our entire stay, so I'm sure our experience was very different than a lot of folks.
The first day we arrived at lunch and Ludmilla made us "American Spaghetti". I think she was trying to be respectful of our palates, but really Chad and I are pretty adventurous eaters. The American spaghetti was not, well, American. It was kinda in a sweet and sour sauce. After that meal Ludmilla asked if we wanted her to make us "American" food or Russian food. We eagerly said "Russian Food" and we were not disappointed. If you get the opportunity to eat authentically- do it! It would be like me trying to cook Korean food if we had a Korean exchange student. Good food is good food, you should always cook what you know. Ludmilla was a wonderful cook. In my journal I wrote down every single thing we ate. (You should try to do that too) I also wrote down every tiny town we passed on the way, every place we visited, and things people said to us, day by day. It's amazing how things start running together if you don't write things down!
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at the food. I only met two things I didn't like- one was a cottage cheese and flour mixture deep fried in oil and served with sour cream and jam for breakfast and the second was the coffee. It was like motor oil. Sludge. They make it on the stove in a metal coffee press.
I packed some "emergency food" of beef jerky, trail mix, nuts, and some high protein bars. Just in case. We were not well received in the village where Charlie lived, so we were really grateful for those healthy snacks. Not like we would have wanted to eat at that cafe- the meat looked petrified under heat lamps. I think it was suppose to be a cafe, I'm not really sure. We did get the chance to shop in the local market there, other than people looking at us like we were from Mars, the food was great. I finally found some TicTacs (they were mint cherry favored and cost a fortune, but worth every penny!) and we bought goodies for all the children there to last the week.
Now the specifics....
We rolled out of bed everyday around 6:30am and breakfast was served promptly by Ludmilla by 7:00am for our 7:30 departure. And it was always huge. Breakfast everyday was delightful. Honey, Bread, Jam, coffee (not delightful) tea, chocolates (yes chocolates and cookies with every meal, presented in a nice bowl...) THEN on top of those items a main dish- omelets, crepes, or bacon. By far the honey was my favorite part of breakfast, it was this yumm-o spreadable deliciousness. If you can buy some buy it! We never stopped at the store, but on our next visit Ludmilla has asked us to bring some real maple syrup in exchange for some honey. She said syrup doesn't exist in Russia and she loves it! I have her jug ready (hurry up court date)
Then on the way to his village everyday we would stop at a pseudo gas station (it had gas, but also cafe's and televisions playing for the patrons) and have hot tea and more chocolate (I love these people!)
Then when we got to the orphanage everyday, before we saw Charlie we would sit and have tea and CHOCOLATE with the director. The kids would also stop by and get a "sweet" from her everyday. No wonder Charlie could spot her from a mile away- she was the sweets lady!
Lunch- we were still full from breakfast, we couldn't be served in the cafe (long story) but I did bring a few snacks everyday from our stockpile- some for us and some to bribe Charlie (a must- get those little goldfish and teddy grahams in the un-crushable serving cups lifesaver) I wish I would have brought a sippy cup for him too, make sure you do that!
Dinner- We had lots of pork, a variety of noodle dishes and chicken twice. One night we had these yummy dumplings filled with meat. Ludmilla promised the recipe, she said she made it so many times, she didn't need a recipe. She ate hers in the liquid it cooked in (like a soup) but she served ours without the broth and with sour cream and some sweet/spicy sauce on the side.
Her husband joined us every night for dinner. She would give us the two "big plates" stuffed full of food and they would eat off of side dish sized plates. By the second night I convinced her that I could eat off the smaller plate and her husband (a sweet, jolly man) could have my large dish. He did not protest, but I really had to twist Ludmilla's arm. She was a wonderful host and really one of the only folks we got to talk to in depth about Russian culture and life there. She probably thought we were the most chatty people in the world, because you'll find when it's a task to be understood, it's easier just to be silent!
Since it was still winter when we were there, we only came across one piece of fruit and no fresh veggies (a few frozen ones at dinner) but for the most part it was meat and starch, tea and chocolate.
I was really worried about the food and it turns out I should have been more worried about the roads and other things! So don't worry about the food, if you don't like breakfast, lunch, or dinner, know that tea and sweets will be in your future shortly!
P.S- One night we had "celebration cakes" and champagne to celebrate Charlie. Olga served them to us in St. Pete. She said her mother use to work in the factory that made them growing up. I don't know what those little cakes were, but if I ever see them again I'm buying a truck load of them!