Cuisine Bridges Cultures

The Journalist goes Food Network style to explore two cultures' common cuisine, and food brings everyone to the same table.

The beauty behind this exchange is how students from two different worlds come together and create something more than a just a journal. We don't just write and translate. We create a meaningful and lasting connections beyond just professional contacts.

As journalism students we follow the story. As college students we follow the party, and where there is a party there is food!

May the Best Chef
Give Us Free Food & Vodka
In order to get a full cultural experience, we decided to have a cooking competition. The idea was to cook traditional food from both Russia and the US.

When we were brainstorming what to cook, we wanted to reflect our countries' cultures. Each country has its own face, smell, flavor, and (critically important) drinking traditions.

We went to our corners to plan our strategy. In the American corner: burgers and beer and bacon, a lot of bacon. In the Russian corner, caviar blini, olivye and vodka.

We gathered our ingredients (unfortunately the university would not let us bring our alcohol), suited up in the mandatory gear that resembled hospital gowns, and entered the ring.

College students and an industrial kitchen, what could go wrong!
Blini vs Pancakes:
A Tale of Two Breakfasts
When you think about an easy and delicious breakfast, what's the very first dish you'll think about? Of course, pancakes, or as Russians say blini.
According to the legend, Maslenitsa lived in the north, and was the daughter of Father Frost. The frail girl Maslenitsa met a man who saw her, hiding behind huge snowdrifts. He approached and asked for her help to rescue her people who were tired of the long winter. On Shrove Tuesday she agreed, and turned into a healthy, ruddy woman, dancing and laughing, dishing out blini, which forced the human race to forget about the long winter and bad weather.

In the depths of the Middle Ages, legends say that a famished traveler in what is now Russia was warming some oat jelly over a fire. As he cooked the traditional mixture, he was distracted by a joke from a friend, and accidentally let his mixture fry over the flames. With a little luck the first ever blini was born.
After this discovery, Pagans across the country made the small pancakes in honor of the sun festival Maslenitsa or Butter Week.

This is similar to America's very own Pancake Day. What's more, all throughout this week long celebration, people would eat nothing but the round, sun-shaped pancakes. Personally we can't think of anything better!

In the American colonies, pancakes were commonly known as johnny cakes or flapjacks were made with buckwheat or cornmeal. The first all-American cookbook which was published in 1796 has two recipes for pancakes. One for a johnny cake, and one for a hoecake.

There are not major differences between these two symbols of Russian and American cuisine. However, there is some fine print.
1
Size
There is an obvious difference between the size of pancakes and blini: pancakes are smaller, but thicker, and more fluffy, while blini are bigger, or as Russians say wider, and thinner.
2
Stuffing
Blini are commonly stuffed. Meat, ham, cheese, veggies and jam are all popular blini fillings. On the contrary, most people eat pancakes with butter and maple syrup,which is the most popular. It's not very practical to stuff a pancake, because it will break or lose its form.
3
Taste
This is a large difference. Blini can both be sweet or savory, but pancakes will always be sweet.
4
Recipe
Blinis use more milk, eggs and salt. Blini uses 500 milliliters of milk instead of 250 milliliters for pancakes, and three eggs instead of one. However, pancakes use more sugar and baking powder. Blini don't have these ingredients.
Cooking competition
USA _____________________________________________________________RUSSIA
The Taste of Russia
Since ancient times the Russian people have experienced the cultures of many nations. After a turbulent history, Russia absorbed many traditions and spread its customs to the surrounding territories. However after many centuries Russia has preserved its national culture and still supports it to this day. Russia has kept the most important tradition, it has preserved its national cuisine.

The history of Russian cuisine is listed so that each reader, no matter their nationality can experience the subtle and diverse taste of Russia.
History

Any history is always extensive, and may be turbulent or confusing. Entire generations create this history. Overcoming various obstacles along the way and thereby absorbing completely new stories that eventually create unity.

Russian cuisine is a collection of the different cooking traditions of the Russian people. The cuisine is diverse, with Central European, Middle Eastern and Central Asian influences. By area Russia is the largest country in the world. Indeed it has its own way of presenting its cultural tastes.

Russia's cuisine expanded greatly during the 16th–18th centuries. This time of growth was due to a new thriving culture, increased Russian influence, and interest. This subsequently brought more refined foods and culinary techniques to the country. Now Russia is one of the most refined food hubs in the world.

Traditional Food

Traditional Russian foods feature many dairy products. These include sour cream, which is often used in soups and salads, as well as cottage cheese, that is mainly used to prepare cheese cakes.

The variety of cereals was based wholly on the types of grain crops growing in Russia. Each type of grain produced several types of cereals. Everything from whole grains to crushed grains to make various foods were produced.

In Russia vegetables are eaten in a variety of ways. They may be prepared raw, boiled, steamed, baked, salted, moistened and pickled.
Food and church

As in other Christian countries, the church had a great influence on the kitchen. More than half of the year was lean. Meaning certain categories of products were banned. This is why the Russian national cuisine is dominated by mushroom and fish dishes, as well as grains, vegetables, forest berries and herbs.
New Russian Cuisine

In the 21st century traditional Russian cuisine is embraced by many types of chefs. Food is prepared according to the past recipes of the original dishes, which originated in the 16th through 19th centuries.

Now on the table of almost every house or cafe, you can see Russian "blini" (pancakes) for breakfast, "borsch" for lunch and "sirniki" (cheesecakes) for dinner.


The Taste of the US
Apple Pie

Apple pie was brought to the colonies by the British, Dutch, and Swedes during the 17th and 18th centuries. The mock apple pie made from crackers was likely invented for use aboard ships. It was known in the British Navy as early as 1812. The earliest known published recipes for mock apple pie date from the antebellum period of the 1850s. In the 1930s, and for many years afterwards, Ritz Crackers promoted a recipe for mock apple pie using its product, along with sugar and various spices.
Turducken

Credit for the creation of the turducken is uncertain. Though it is generally agreed to have been popularized by Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme. New Orleans surgeon, Dr. Gerald R. LaNasa, was locally known for his use of a scalpel in deboning his three birds of choice. Sometimes adding pork or veal roasts in the final hen, thus preserving the turducken tradition as a regional holiday favorite of the southern United States.

Andouille sausage and Foie Gras were always key ingredients of the LaNasa creations. The results of Dr. LaNasa's work can be found in the modern day as mass-produced turducken. His turkey, duck, and chicken ballotine is now widely available under multiple trademark names.

Hamburger

In the United States, hamburgers may be classified into one of two primary categories fast food and individually prepared burgers made in homes and restaurants. The latter are traditionally prepared "with everything" also called "all the way", "deluxe", "the works", "dragged through the garden", or, in some regions, "all dressed." This usually includes lettuce, tomato, onion, and sliced pickles. The traditional American hamburger, prepared in homes and conventional restaurants, is thicker and prepared by hand from ground beef. At conventional American restaurants, hamburgers may be ordered "rare". However, normally they are served medium-well or well-done for food safety reasons. Fast food restaurants do not usually offer this cooking option.
People from all countries come together at the dinner table. Food is something that transgresses language barriers and ocean divides. One thing is for certain: there is unity at the dinner table.
Authors:

Sona De Apro (text, photo)
Justin Lawrence (editing)
Ekaterina Palashina (design)
Alexander Privezentsev (text)
Arina Ruzheynikova (text)
Maria Rybnikova (the author of the idea)

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