The most important tip I can give you on Belarus local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Belarus, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in
Potatoes, pork, bread, & beef – in a nutshell. Most of the products and ingredients are organic, and radiation levels are constantly checked in the food to avoid contamination. “Take fresh aurochs, and if you do not have any, you can use the elk instead”. From an 18th century Belarusian cookbook Modern Belarusian cookery is based on old national traditions, which have undergone a long historical evolution. But the main methods of traditional Belarusian cuisine are carefully kept by the people.
Common in Belarusian cuisine were dishes from potato which is called among people “the second bread”. The Belarusians bring fame to their beloved potato in their verses, songs, dances. There are special potato cafes in the country where you can try various potato dishes. Potato is included into many salads and it is served together with mushrooms and/or meat; different pirazhki (patties) and baked puddings are made from it.
The most popular among the Belarusians is traditional draniki (known as “latkes” to North Americans, but eaten only with sour cream, never apple sauce), thick pancakes prepared from shredded potatoes. A wide spread of potato dishes in Belarusian cuisine can be explained by natural climatic conditions of Belarus which are propitious for growing highly starched and tasty sorts of potatoes. Meat and meat products play a major role in the diet of Belarusians, especially to the pork and salted pork fat.
One of the people’s proverbs says: “There is no fish more tasty than tench, as well as there is no meat better than pork”. The salted pork fat is used slightly smoked and seasoned with onions and garlic. Pyachysta is one of the traditional holiday dishes. This is boiled, stewed or roasted sucking pig, fowl or large chunks of pork or beef. Dishes prepared from meat are usually served together with potatoes or vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, black radish, peas, etc.
It is characteristic that many vegetable and meat dishes are prepared in special stoneware pots. Among dishes from fish, the Belarusians prefer yushka, galki and also baked or boiled river-fish without special seasonings. In general, the most common seasonings are onions, garlic, parsley, dill, caraway seeds, pepper; they are used very moderately in Belarusian cookery.
The national dishes are hearty and tasty. There are choices of fresh, dried, salted and pickled mushrooms, and also berries such as bilberry, wild strawberries, red whortlberry, raspberries, cranberries and some others. Of flour dishes, the most popular is zacirka. Pieces of specially prepared dough are boiled in water and then poured over with milk or garnished with salted pork fat. The Belarusians prefer to use whole milk, which affected some methods of making yoghurt and the so called klinkovy cottage cheese. In Belarusian cuisine, the milk is widely used for mixing in vegetable and flour dishes. Myadukha, berezavik, kvas, and beer are traditional Belarusian drinks. As of September 2012, current international chain restaurants are comprised of McDonald’s and TGI Fridays.
Many of the restaurants featuring foreign cuisine are Italian or French in origin although some Asian and American cuisine is also available. Pizza is a popular meal in Belarus and travellers will generally find a significant number of restaurants offering pizza in the larger cities such as Minsk or Vitebsk.
What to Drink in
You can get soft drinks and beer everywhere in Belarus. Taste kvass – a non-alcoholic fermented beverage made from black or regular rye bread. In summer times you can buy draught kvass on the street. As well as at supermarkets you will always find bottled kvass.
Vodka, bitter herbal nastoikas (especially Belavezhskaja and Zubrouka) and sweet balsams are the most common alcoholic drinks. Krambambulia is another famous herbal nastoika.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.