The particularities of nutrition of Siberian people have been formed thanks to ancient traditions and bleak climate. People preferred dairy products, vegetables, and greens in summer and meat dishes with pickles in winter. They treated food with care and solicitude. All the products were spent with a great thriftiness, especially in spring. Bread was considered a sacred object and it was sinful to throw or drop even a piece of bread or leave breadcrumbs on the table. Meat was the product for holidays; all the best food products were purchased to save some money for other expenses.
Women got up earliest with the lark and cooked the meals. There usually were three meals a day, children could eat more often – pancakes were baked especially for them and they were given milk. Breakfast was called “zautrennik“, lunch –”pauzhin”, supper – “vechernik”. The housewife could fry potatoes in the oven, mash and dress them with sour cream and butter for the first meal. Schi were made only from meat and water and ukha was cooked without any spices. For uzhin, a hill of thin and thick pancakes, pies with viburnum (snowball berries) and, of course, kasha were served. Kasha with milk and butter was steamed out; vegetables were stewed or baked in the oven. Or it could be vice versa: dairy products were for the morning meal and potatoes with sour cream for the evening, but lunch (“obed”) was traditionally with soup, kasha and kvas. Soup was a simple mixture of potatoes with meat slices and bay leaf. Main dishes, as a rule, were served with sauerkraut and pickles.
Obed was accompanied with okroshka (salad made from radish, onion, cucumbers, eggs and dressed with kvas). In winter okroshka was completed with kholodets (meat in aspic) and served with oaten beverage and kulaga. Kulaga was made from boiled rye flour, viburnum, wort and sugar, and then placed in the oven for a whole day. In autumn, from mushrooms, gruzdianka (milk mushroom stew) was cooked with potatoes, onion, dill and sometimes, groats. Pelmeni (small dumplings with meat filling) is aboriginal Siberian dish as they could be kept thanks to hard frosts for a long time.
Uzhin was diversified with pies, shangui (a kind of pirozhki) with berries, carrot, cabbage, curds and onion. Pumpkin was cooked with buckwheat or millet gruel and served with milk. As you can see, the food was very simple and can’t be called delicious or fine. But its principal advantage is nourishing and filling qualities.
Everything was eaten with wooden spoons from a common ceramic bowl. There were no special rules of behavior at table, but laugh, fun and talks were forbidden. The eldest man of the family took the first portion of food and it was him who watched the children. Meal was a traditional place to review all the faults and slips. It was the same eldest man who spoke and the other kept silence and accepted the punishments obediently.
Before taking meal, people prayed and bowed low to the icon. Children were obliged to ask a permission to leave the table. Having left the table, children bowed to the icon and thanked the parents: Thank you, Dad and Mom“.