Slavic peoples are traditionally divided along linguistic lines. The West Slavic included Czechs, Poles and Slovaks, East Slavic included Belarusians, Russians, Ukrainians,and Rusyns), and the South Slavic included Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenians.

An Abridged Russian History

     Just like much of the Euro-Asia, Russia has a long and rich history. Today, Russians are the dominant ethnicity. The ancestors of the Russians were the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought to have been the wooded areas along the Pripyat River. Relatively little is known about East Slavs prior to approximately the 9th century AD. The reason for this lies mainly in the apparent absence of written language and remoteness of East Slavic lands. The Cyrillic alphabet was created around 863 specifically for adoption by Slavs.

rurik

Rurik, the Viking leader
Traditionally credited with founding the Russian state

     According to the earliest chronicle of Kievan Rus’, a Varangian named Rurik became prince of Novgorod in about 860 before his successors moved south and extended their authority to Kiev. By the late 9th century the Varangian ruler of Kiev had established his power over a large area that gradually came to be known as Russia.The name “Russia” is thought to be connected with Slavic or Persian roots. Originally Rus was a medieval country and state that comprised mostly Early East Slavs. The territories of that old Rus are today distributed among the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine.

     That early “Rus” state had no proper name. Its inhabitants called it “Russkaya zemla”, which might be translated as “Rus land” or “Land of the Rus”. In a similar fashion, Poland is still called Polska by its inhabitants, and the Czech Republic (Česká republika) is commonly called by its adjectival name.

     The Slavs originally lived in what is now White Russia (or Belorus). They are first mentioned – rather vaguely – by several ancient Greek writers in the 3rd century B.C. In the 6th century A.D., there was a sudden migration of Slavs out of White Russia in all directions.

     Some of them pushed north towards the Russian arctic, some went east into the lands of the Scythians, some pushed westward into Poland and even deep into Germany. Still, another group, the South Slavs, invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and settled in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and parts of Greece as far south as the Peleponesis. The Albanians and Romanians remained two small islands of non-Slavic peoples in their midst.

ancient russia1

Ancient Russia

     There are many small historic Slavic nations like Lusatia, Rusin, Kashubia and others. Russia is now the most powerful Slavic country, but in the 10th century the Czechs were more powerful, and in the 16th century Poland was the strongest nation in the area. The Slavic languages are closely related. The largest similarities can be found within the same group. Polish and Slovak are both West Slavic languages, but similarities exist even between Slavic languages from other different subgroups such as Polish and Russian, West Slavic and East Slavic respectively. 

 Каша – матушка наша, а хлебец ржаной – отец наш родной

(Porridge [is] our mother, and rye bread [is our] father) 
(Literal: Porridge – our mother, and rye bread – the father of our native)

russian diet

Russian Diet

     The Russian cuisine is as diverse, as Russia is by area the largest country in the world. The cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multicultural expanse of Russia. The basics of Russian meals starts with the peasants of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, caviar, mushrooms, berries, and honey.

     Cold climate crops of rye, wheat, barley and millet provided the ingredients for a superabundance of breads, pancakes, pies, cereals, beer and vodka. Soups and stews full of flavor are centered on seasonal or storable produce (mainly root vegetables), fish and meats.

Russian Cuisine

Soljanka

     Russia’s great expansions of culture, influence, and interest during the 16th–18th centuries brought more refined foods and culinary techniques, as well as one of the most refined food countries in the world. It was during this period that smoked meats and fish, pastry cooking, salads and green vegetables were imported from cultures of other countries. This also included such exotic treats as chocolate, ice cream and wines. The result is extremely varied in technique, seasoning, and combination.

Recipe Section

Russia