This post isn’t actually about Russian food. It is, rather, about the food Katie eats in Russia.
Anticipatory apology to my parents/anyone who feels invested in my wellbeing. You may want to skip this post.
My day begins with breakfast, a maximum of 6 minutes after I roll out of bed in the morning. Yes, my metabolism is overactive.
Breakfast consists of a combination of cornflakes/granola and yogurt/milk. The four options afforded by this graph are way too overwhelming, so I usually have only one product of each category in my room at a time. Right now, though, I have cornflakes AND granola. This means I actually have to think in the mornings.
If my milk-product-of-the-week has gone bad unexpectedly (which happens, since the yogurt I buy has a 5-day lifespan, and the milk is only drinkable for 3 days before it becomes… well… edible), I eat bread with cheese or an apple instead.
At some point between breakfast and lunch, I eat an apple, a mandarin, or salted peanuts.
For lunch, I sometimes eat at the school cafeteria, but more often I eat open-faced sandwiches and veggies. Some examples from the past week:
I don’t require a lot of variety in my diet, but what I do comes in the choice of bread (brown or white?) and vegetable (pepper or tomato? or fruit?? wow). I can also choose my cheese/meat, but I tend to only buy one package of meat and one of cheese at a time, for minimum food waste.
Then, between lunch and dinner, I eat another apple or a pirozhok, usually while walking from one class to another. When it’s cold out, this results in blue hands, but it’s worth it for a full stomach.
For dinner, it often happens that I am fed by well-meaning Russian friends (“Do you eat, ever? Here, have this 5-egg omelet”). This is awesome, even if sometimes it results in overstuffing. These meals do not always include the quantity of vegetable matter I myself would choose, but they fill me up and make me feel like a real human. For all the other days, there’s “rabbit food.” This is a dish that consists of lentils, barley, onion, and garlic, which I make every so often and can last me up to one week in the fridge, or two in the freezer. For fun, I add cut-up veggies, cheese, spices, and/or olive oil.
My rabbit food elicits various reactions that all carry the same tone of judgment… “That can’t taste good.” “Is that your dinner?” “Are you on a diet??” The answers: “Good enough.” “Yes, it is.” “No, I’m not.” The reasoning behind this dish is simple. I eat in order to not be hungry, and to give my body the nutrients it needs. This meal fills me up, and it covers most of the major food groups (protein, carb, dairy, veggie, fat). Plus I only have to prepare it once a week. AND it travels nicely. Win-win-win-win. Highly recommend.
Then, before bed, I usually end up eating bread with butter, olive oil, or peanut butter, or a few slices of cheese.
So this is my average pattern. However, sometimes I feel inspired (read: have guests) and make actual food (this happens about once every 7-10 days). “Actual food” still usually comes in the form of a single dish, because I can’t quite get my head around planning separate parts to a meal. This could mean fried rice, potatoes with some onion-apple-pork stirfry splotched on top, or any of the following…
I AM a real person! I CAN cook! Sort of.
What I have been doing a lot of recently is baking. Russians love American baked goods… I mean, how would you feel if you encountered brownies for the first time at 56? Or even 23? I’ve gained myself a reputation as a baker, which is hilarious, since I hate making things precisely by recipes (as may be inferred by my choices of savory cooking pictured above). Anyone, especially my sister, could tell you that I have no special gift for pastry. Actually, that’s not entirely true: my special gift is that I am an accomplished googler with an advanced command of the English language. In Russia, that makes all the difference. Here, enjoy pictures…
Not pictured but also popular: pumpkin pie (x4), apple pie (x2), pumpkin chocolate chip bread, brownies (x3 with Snickers, x3 without), chocolate chip cookies (x2), snickerdoodles, honey-egg bread. I need to start remembering to photograph these things.
The takeaway: Mom, I’m getting through just fine, but I’m already excited about the cheeseburger and salad we’re going to have when I get home. T-58 days.