There are many similarities between Russian and American food culture, however, some differences make themselves apparent. For example, food is mass-produced in the United States. Therefore, a lot of extra chemicals and preservatives are added to keep them up to Federal Health Standards. Russian food however, is always shipped as raw materials, so everything ordered at restaurants is made from scratch. It took a couple of weeks to adjust my stomach to eating the food in Moscow because they use so much butter and raw ingredients. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. People from the west do not have this kind of eating experience so it naturally takes some getting used to.
My favorite Russian foods so far are blini (like a crêpe served with condensed milk), perogi with pasta dough, and shwarma (though technically this is Uzbeck food). There are food stands all over the city and buying food from here is actually cheaper than going to international fast food places such as McDonald’s and Burger King. It is about 34 rubles to a Dollar in the current market. So a meal at McDonald’s would cost about 400-500 rubles. At a stand on the street that serves traditional Russian food, you can get a bigger meal for 135 rubles (tell me a place in America that will serve you an entire meal for 4 dollars….).
Lastly, it is very important to Russians to dine with family and/or friends. In America, we generally eat when we are hungry and often by ourselves when we are on the go. In Russia, even the foreign students use the consumption of a meal as an excuse to socialize, sit around and table, and talk about their day or simple things. The social aspect of a meal is a custom that I grew accustomed to right away. This is something that I hope to be able to incorporate into my life back in the States.