In Siberia (as well as in the rest of the country), people like celebrating Christmas and the New Year by gathering all together at the dinner table. A great quantity of food is prepared before the holidays and Siberian people eat it many days after the holiday has ended. You will be amazed at the number of dishes Siberian women cook! True, you can specifically eat all those dishes at Christmas and New Year, but the good news is that every cafe and restaurant in Siberia have them year-round. So if you are planning to go to Siberia during Christmas, do not miss places where you can try unique Siberian dishes locals have for Christmas!
The first salad is Olivier. It sounds French because it is! Olivier salad is the one named after a French person, there’s no doubt about it, but it became so popular in Russia that everyone eats it during New Year and Christmas celebrations! Olivier salad is considered a real symbol of the New Year! This salad is popular in post-Soviet countries as well. Traditionally, it is made with boiled potatoes, carrots, green peas, eggs, chicken (or sometimes ham) with salt, pepper, and mayonnaise dressing. This is one of the tastiest salads and Siberians have it for lunch all-year-round too!
Another popular salad is called «Shuba». Usually, Siberians use herring fish to prepare this layered salad. The ingredients of this Siberian herring fish salad are finely chopped: pickled herring fish, eggs, beets, carrots, potatoes, and dressing. The Russian name of this salad is "seledka pod shuboĭ". Foreigners know this salad simply as «shuba». Curiously, «shuba» means a «fur coat» in Russian. The herring fish in the salad is covered under so many layers that they look like a good warm fur coat, hence the funny name.
If salads do not sound like great starters of the holiday meal for you, how about red and black caviar and various kinds of sandwiches Siberians prepare? Caviar is, for sure, one of the most popular holiday food. Red caviar can be tried at the cafes all year round, but black caviar is more expensive and is purely a New Year’s treat. Another caviar delicatessen is boiled eggs cut in halves and stuffed with red caviar.
The first and second courses of Siberian New Year’s table can vary, usually, people prepare meat and fish. It depends on their preferences.
Whereas the main courses are not different from the rest of the world in Siberia, New Year’s desserts surely are. One of the bywords of Siberian New Year’s desserts is a Napoleon cake. Yes, this cake is named after Napoleon because it became popular while celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian victory over Napoleon. As with the Olivier salad, initially, it was a French dessert. It was called mille-feulle. Nowadays, this is the most popular cake in all Siberian (and Russian) cafes as well.
One of the favorite places to try this cake in Irkutsk is The Cake Home Cafe. It serves all kinds of famous local desserts, including the Napoleon cake. The Cake Home Cafe is situated right where tourists can easily find it in the 130 Quarter.
As for the other delicacies I mentioned, one can try them all in another famous place - in Trapeznikov Restaurant in Irkutsk. This place is a little bit posh, but it is worth a visit. The Trapeznikov Restaurant not only specializes in great Siberian cuisine, but it also has a soothing authentic interior.
As for tangerines, Siberians think it’s bad luck to start celebrating the New Year without a full basket of tangerines, so they buy lots of these fruits before the holiday begins! Remember that traveling can be not only about seeing places but tasting things can tell you even more about the country’s tradition! If you happen to be in Siberia during New Year’s time, do not hesitate and try those unique Siberian dishes locals have for Christmas!
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