A Russian Life: What Russian expatriates miss the most about Russia
- Posted by: Elena Killiakova
- Category: Matryoshka’s diary
You do not know what it means to love your country until you have lived abroad
As some of you would know, our author Elena have been living overseas on and off since she turned 19. As many Russian people say – you do not know what it means to love your country until you have lived abroad. This week Elena will share some of the things that she and her Russian friends (who live around the world) miss the most and what they do when they get together (in Russia or overseas).
Russians really like dairy products, many of which you won’t be able to find in supermarkets around the world (unless it is a Russian grocery shop). Take for example kefir – even with countries with a lot of farms and advanced agriculture this drink is not popular. In Russia, ryazhenka and kefir are extremely popular, and every dairy farmer makes them. Tvorog is my absolute favourite! While living in Sydney, I got addicted to home-made cottage cheese that was made by a Russian-speaking family.
Russians like buckwheat, they eat it like a porridge, as a side dish, and even as a main course. Sometimes it’s possible to find buckwheat in health food stores – it’s very nutritious. While living in Australia, I discovered that buckwheat and avocado work well together! Some of my Russian friends who live overseas refer to Russia as “Buckwheat Land”.
You should definitely try zephyr – it will make you fall in love with Russian sweets. The closest relative to it is marshmallow, but it has another taste and consistency. There are no eggs in marshmallow, unlike zephyr. It’s a kind of pastila, the ancient Russian dessert, that’s usually made from sour apples, sugar, and egg whites. The most famous pastila is produced in the city of Kolomna near Moscow. And of course, you can find it everywhere in Russia. These sweets are very light and healthy, and you won’t put a lot of weight on by eating them. At least, we believe so.
My other favourite is “Ptich’ye Moloko” (Птичье молоко which can be literally translated as “birds’ milk”). Some factories, for example, Primorsky Confectioner (Приморский Кондитер) produces chocolate that tastes very unusual – you can find dark chocolate with scallop, and sea urchin and sea weed. Pretty unusual, hey?
What do Russian expatriates do when they get together? Make and eat Russian food – a few rounds at least! Herring Under the Furcoat is my absolute favourite! I also enjoy celebrating Orthodox Easter by making the traditional Cottage cheese desert (Paskha), boiling and colouring eggs, and eating Kulich.
Listen to Russian musicians or go to their concerts when they are touring the world – my absolute favourites are Basta and Mumiy Troll (Vladivostok 2000 is an absolute must!). Watch Russian movies (the most recent one I saw was “In the Hood” by Olga Zueva) who is from Vladivostok but now leaves in New York.
Speak Russian – many of my close friends who have not seen me for years tell me that I speak funny now. I remember when I came to Moscow for a visit after being away for almost two years – a few strangers “complimented” my Russian by saying – how did you manage to learn Russian that well? Do I really have that strong of an accent?!
There are some downsides to living abroad too. You are not here, not there. In your home country, you are not local enough because you don’t know the latest news, in your new acquired home you know all the news, but you are still not local enough, because you weren’t born there.
Some tips for staying connected to your roots include reading books in Russian, watching movies in Russian or about Russia. Making Russian food (Herring under the Fur Coat is my absolute favourite)! Wearing a traditional Russian scarf.
Would you like to brush up your Russian or make your old dream of learning Russian come true? No matter what you goal and level of Russian is, we have you covered!