Let's talk about Belarusian national cuisine

Perhaps, one of the most pleasant ways to understand the soul of a nation is to start exploring its national cuisine. Tasting of some original dish may tell a foreign visitor a lot about Belarusian traditions. Hospitable Belarusians will undoubtedly invite them to a home table to treat them. Yet restaurants, cafes, bars are also ready to introduce Belarusian cuisine.

Modern Belarusian cookery is based on old national traditions which have undergone a long historical evolution.

Dishes are typically based on local vegetables and cereals especially potatoes, beetroot, mushrooms, berries and barley. Potatoes are called among people "the second bread". A wide spread of potato dishes in Belarusian cuisine can be explained by natural climatic conditions which are good for growing tasty sorts of potatoes. Potato is included into

many salads, it is served together with mushrooms, meat; different pirazhki (patties) and baked puddings are made from it. There are three different ways of starting potato dishes: grated raw potatoes with the juices, drained grated raw potatoes, and mashed boiled potatoes which are further used to prepare other dishes. The most popular dish is traditional draniki, thick pancakes, prepared from shredded potatoes.

A lot of place in the national diet belongs to meat and meat products, especially to the pork and salted pork fat. Salted pork fat is used slightly smoked and seasoned with onions and garlic. Sausages are made from liver and blood. The most favorite poultry is goose which is prepared for the festive occasions Dishes prepared from meat are usually served together with potatoes or vegetables such as carrots, cabbages, black radish, peas etc. It is characteristic that many vegetables and meat dishes are prepared in special stoneware pots.

Soups play an important role in Belarusian cuisine. There are two types of soups: hot and cold. Most popular are beetroot soup (borshch), bouillon, cabbage soup (shchy) and chilled soup (khaladnik). All soups have sour tastes. Spices in Belarusian cuisine are used sparingly and include marjoram, garlic and coriander.

Of flour dishes the most popular is zatsirka. Pieces of specially prepared dough are boiled in water and then poured over with milk or garnished with salted pork fat.

Sweets are not very popular. Instead of cooked sweets people eat a lot of berries and fruit in their natural form, the only exception are baked apples. Belarusians also drink sweet juices from birch and maple trees. Those juices and kvasses made from them are national beverages.

One of my favourite dishes is draniki. To make it you need the following ingredients: 6 potatoes, 1 egg, 2 table spoons of flour, 1 onion, salt, pepper and oil. First you peel, wash and grate potatoes and peel and chop the onion. Then you mix potatoes and onion, add the egg, flour and salt and stir well until it becomes combined. After that you heat oil in a frying pan and add potato mixture with a table spoon in the form of small flat cakes. Then you fry draniki and serve with main dishes and sour cream.

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