Sunday, May 8, 2011

A culinary excursion to Russia, 2: Markets

Itook these photos in the markets of Yaroslavl, an ancient provincial town on the Volga River about 300 km north of Moscow. We were really impressed by the amazing range of food available at the market, and how beautifully it was presented. The colourful fruit stalls--both fresh and candied fruit, as above, which came from all over Russia-- were particularly attractive!

But there were also excellent fish stalls(above), which sold not only fresh but smoked and salted fish, and lovely red caviar(salmon roe); stalls selling pickles of all sort--gherkins in all sizes, pickled cabbage, pickled garlic, pickled onions; stalls selling nuts and spices like caraway and a variety of Caucasian spices..Vegetables included root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, beetroot--cabbages, red and white--lots of lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, sorrel--and lots of garlic(Russian cooking uses quite a lot of garlic) and onions, and herbs such as parsley and dill. Olives and olive oil(which surprisingly are also used a lot) and dried mushrooms(it wasn't the mushroom season) were also sold and there were various preserves of fruit, and jams. There were also dairy products--there's apparently a famous Yaroslavl cheese, though we didn't taste it, and butchers sold local lamb(there is a famous local breed)and beef, chicken and pork from further afield. There were also stalls piled high with Russian-produced biscuits, sweets and chocolates, and a stall selling, among other grains, the pearl barley which is used to make 'kasha', the famous Russian porridge, of which the charming (modern, English-language)Russian cookbook we bought in Moscow says, 'Man's thankful attitude to his daily bread is expressed in beautiful and tender names given to dishes. Take for example a pearl barley kasha. It is not a mere chance that the word pearl is present in its name. The dish bearing such a poetic name came to us from the distant past.'

I love it!

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