Russian Vegetarian Cooking Shines During Lent

During the Russian spring, the sun transforms into a pancake.

At least, that’s the folk story mothers tell their children while cooking blinchikifor breakfast. This flat, circular cake, which can be served for any meal of the day, is a symbol of the sun’s return to the cold, dark climates of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s served crepe-style, rolled up and slathered in honey or jam. Every bite tastes like a ray of sunshine.

But there’s more to blinchiki than folklore. The pancakes are the signature food item for the season of Lent, a time before Easter when many Russians give up eating meat. That alone isn’t surprising, but Russians who give up meat for Lent will spend three more weeks as vegetarians than their Gregorian-based brethren. They’ll even surpass the number of days spent by a person abiding by every Meatless Monday in 2016.

Russia is a good country to be in if you’re stuck eating vegetarian for two months. Recipes like borscht can be made with or without meat. Kitchen pantries are filled with preserved pickles, fruits, tomatoes, and vats of fermenting cabbage. And don’t forget the bread. Russians have baked for centuries with native cereals such as rye and winter wheat.

Read the full story: Russian Vegetarian Cooking Shines During Lent


Ryan Bell is a Fulbright-National Geographic Fellow traveling through Russia and Kazakhstan. He’s reporting about food topics for The Plate, and his travel adventures for Voices. You can also follow him on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and Storify

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