Beyond borscht: a food tour of Russia

There’s much more to Russian cuisine than sour cream, beetroot and dill, as this culinary journey from St Petersburg to Moscow proves

At Taste to Eat, a contemporary restaurant with a distinctly SEO-unfriendly name in St Petersburg, I am about to plunge into a chicken kiev, its heart bursting with garlic. Over the past five days I have eaten hot pyshki doughnuts covered in sugar, scarfed down herring under fur coats, and gobbled barley porridge with blood sausage. I have looked askance at beef wobbling in grey-brown aspic. I’ve tasted mead and pickled mushrooms where you can practically taste the mud on the fingernails of the people who made them. I have had borscht (exceptional) and borscht (execrable) and borscht (middling). In tearing the pizza-like crust of a katchapuri and dipping it in its central egg and molten cheese vat, I have learned the joys of Georgian cuisine. Despite all this, I worry I am no closer to answering the question I set out to answer: what’s Russian food actually like?

This is a culinary immersion into Russia organised by Intrepid, a travel company that likes its visitors to get under the skin of the destination. Clearly it is not without a sense of irony. After all, a Russian culinary tour sounds about as paradoxical as an English weather tour or, I suppose, an English culinary tour.

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