History of St. Petersburg cuisine

From the first yeas, St. Petersburg was presented as an international city that's why city cuisine was a mix of various European culinary traditions. The capital's status, the reputation of a "window to Europe" and the largest port made St. Petersburg a city of large-scale international transit. More than two centuries the rest of Russia got acquainted with the dishes of other countries through St. Petersburg.

 

The phenomenon of Saint Petersburg cuisine that combines Russian and French traditions began to take shape in the 18th century, and finally became established in the first quarter of the 19th century.

The main figure of St. Petersburg gastronomy considered to be "the Emperor of cooks and the cook of emperors" French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, who served at the courts of Alexander I, George IV, Tylerand and Rothschild.

Carême stayed in Russia only a few months in 1819, but during this time he managed to do a lot: he made the concept of an exact recipe to Russian cuisine,

 

"ennobled" traditional Russian dishes, giving them a "European" touch, in particular, Russian pies familiar to everyone today with a variety of fillings were previously made from sour rye dough, and thanks to Carême began to be prepared from white yeast, layer, etc.

In the XIX century, there were already other "agents of influence" in Saint Petersburg, both foreign culinary schools and the cuisines of different regions of Russian Empire. Lunch, which combined little Russian borsch, Georgian shish kebab and sweet plov with melon, could only appear in the capital of the Empire.

 

 

Marie-Antoine Karem

 

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SAINT PETERSBURG SPECIALITIES

 

Sterlet in champagne

 

               Smelt

Local "specialties" - products and dishes that distinguish the country or area that appeared in it (in reality or according to legend) and make up its distinctive feature play a large role in the formation of national and regional gastronomic brands.

According to numerous memoirs and references in the literature, St. Petersburg was not rich by local products, with the exception of all sorts of fish, both sea, river and lake. Fish dishes made up the Petersburg main specialties, that the Imperial capital was famous for both in Moscow and in the Russian province.

One of the most expensive and refined dishes of true Petersburg cuisine can be considered a sterlet in champagne. The combination of pure Russian (Volga) sterlet and the famous French sparkling wine not only demonstrated the combination of two such different products, but also the fabulous luxury that was available only to the most brilliant court of that time – Saint Petersburg court.

 
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SAINT PETERSBURG MENU  

 

 

 

The menu in the traditional sense is a list of dishes and drinks served at the table, and a certain order of their serving, and a properly designed sheet with this list and order serving.

 

 

In full accordance with the nature of the Petersburg cuisine, the Petersburg menu during the XIX and early XX century was based on a French and Russian combination dishes, this applied to private homes, expensive restaurants and the most ordinary cookery. Almost any soup, as a first served dish, was accompanied by Russian pies and coulibiac, and the further menu consisted of alternations of French and Russian dishes.

 

Both private and restaurant dinners were accompanied by menu cards. Fashionable homes and restaurants have acquired cards of hard cardboard-bristol with a gold edge and embossed (sometimes gold) institution logo or the owner monogram and crown. For special cases, the text menu was printed in the printing house, for the usual restaurant-entered by hand.

 

 

 

  Menu of the restaurant of the hotel "Angleterre". 1899. Stamping, gilding, cutting. Of GMI SPb.

 

The distinctive feature of the old Petersburg cuisine, in contrast to the French and English, adopted in the XVIII and early XIX century, was the so – called "Russian serving". Unlike the French, where all meals were brought at once, and a food full table was a sign of wealth, but sometimes with a cold food, the Russian nobles with their huge number of serfs ware followed a consistent dishes serving, that allows dishes be with the right temperature and in right flavors order. The Russian rule of food serving became incredibly popular over time, and by the 1870s it was almost universally accepted in Europe.

 

Another feature of the Petersburg table was a buffet tradition ("Luncheon"), when before actual dinner serve vodka together with cold and hot appetizers. This practice struck foreigners in the 19th century: "before sitting down at the table, guests come to a round one, where there are caviar, fillets of herring with spicy salt, anchovies, cheese, olives, sausage circles, hamburg smoked beef and other snacks that are eaten on pieces of bread to whet the appetite". 

 

 

Another feature of the Petersburg table was a buffet tradition ("Luncheon"), when before actual dinner serve vodka together with cold and hot appetizers. This practice struck foreigners in the 19th century: "before sitting down at the table, guests come to a round one, where there are caviar, fillets of herring with spicy salt, anchovies, cheese, olives, sausage circles, hamburg smoked beef and other snacks that are eaten on pieces of bread to whet the appetite". 

 

The process of forming Saint Petersburg cuisine did not develop immediately. Over two centuries, it has passed through several stages, reflecting the history of socio-economic development of the Russian Empire. Eventually it absorbed both General historical trends and the best achievements of European cuisine.

The revival of historical traditions of St. Petersburg cuisine began 100 years later, in the XXI century. We still have a lot to learn, study and explore before the unique dishes of Saint. Petersburg chefs of the XIX century become recognizable and beloved by our compatriots and numerous foreign guests.

 

 

Photos and information: shop.annafelikova.com, antennadaily.ru, statehistory.ru, severyanin.me, grandkulinar.ru, kvs.spb.ru