Meals of the Day in Russia

Daily Russian meals
 Borshch, the first course for lunch

Russia has its own ideas about how and what to eat. Russian people like to eat home-cooked food, and rarely buy prepared meals at supermarkets. Usually Russians eat three times a day and prefer potatoes, which are eaten almost daily.

The three meals of the day in Russia are zavtrak, obed and uzhin. With the exception of zavtrak, there are no exact English translations for these daily meals. For example, the second meal, obed, is served around 2 p.m. and can be called either "lunch" or "dinner" in English. The third meal, uzhin, is served after 6 p.m. and can called either "dinner" or "supper".

Breakfast - The first meal

Russians usually have an early breakfast at about seven or eight in the morning right before leaving to work. It is very common for Russian families to have kasha (a type of porridge made from different grains), butterbrots (a kind of sandwich made of a single slice of bread and one topping such as butter or ham), boiled or fried eggs, tvorog (similar to cottage cheese) or cereal for breakfast. Coffee or tea is an essential drink for many Russians. Many people eat a toast with cheese and drink juice for breakfast.

Russian lunch - The main meal

Traditionally, lunch (обе́д) is the main meal of the day in Russia. During working days, Russians usually have a one-hour lunch break (обе́денный переры́в) somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m. This is the time when lots of cafés and restaurants offer lunch specials (ко́мплексный обе́д or би́знес-ланч) where people can buy an inexpensive meal for less than US $10.

A classic Russian lunch includes hot soup as the first course (пе́рвое блю́до or simply пе́рвое) and meat with potatoes, porridge or pasta as the second course (второ́е). This is then followed by the third course (тре́тье) which is usually a drink such as kompot (a non-alcoholic drink made by boiling fruit in water), tea, coffee or juice with an optional cake or chocolates. Many Russians who work in the office go for lunch to a nearby café or restaurant, while others bring lunch from home. Some companies order food for lunch directly to the office for their employees.

Dinner - The third meal

Dinner (у́жин) is another important meal in Russia. It is the second largest meal after lunch. The whole family eats dinner together after everyone returns home from work and school, which is usually around 7 or 8 p.m. For many Russians, dinner is the only time when the whole family can interact with each other. Families commonly watch TV together during dinner to keep track of the latest news. A typical Russian dinner consists of one or two appetizers and a hot main dish, which might be potatoes, meat, or fish. After dinner, Russians like to drink tea with sugar or jam.

A few peculiarities of Russian cuisine

In Russia, there is always bread on the table. There are special feelings that Russians have towards rye bread (ржано́й хлеб), also known as "black" bread (чёрный хлеб) because of its dark color. "Black" bread is considered a traditional food in Russian homes and every foreigner absolutely needs to try it.

Another traditional food is kvass (квас) -- a fermented beverage made from rye bread. Kvass has very low alcohol content not exceeding 1% and therefore it is enjoyed by people of all ages including children. This carbonated dink is best consumed cold to help the hot summer days pass by. It is also used as ingredient in the traditional cold soup called okroshka (окро́шка).

Russian vodka (во́дка) is usually drunk on holidays in the circle of family and friends. A good occasion to drink vodka are official holidays like the New Year's Day, birthdays and weddings.

Russian Meals Vocabulary

за́втрак - breakfast
обе́д - lunch or dinner
у́жин - dinner or supper
обе́денный переры́в - lunch break
ко́мплексный обе́д - set lunch, lunch special, prix fixe
би́знес-ланч - lunch special, prix fixe
пе́рвое блю́до - first course (full name)
пе́рвое - first course (short name)
второ́е - second course (short name)
тре́тье - third course (short name)
ржано́й хлеб - rye bread
чёрный хлеб - rye bread, brown bread, "black" bread
квас - kvass
окро́шка - okroshka
во́дка - vodka



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