National Food at the Sochi Winter Olympics

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Photo credit: Casey Yee

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin in a few short days! Thousands of athletes, spectators and visitors will be flocking to Sochi to enjoy the events and sample the local food. Many people know about one typical Russian dish called Borscht, but what other Russian food will be offered at the Winter Olympics?

National Foods and Flavors

Let’s start off with Borscht. Yes, it’s a typical beet-based Russian dish, but unlike what most people think, it’s not always served up cold or is bland in taste. There are many different recipes and ways to make your own version of this classic. This version from Nola.com starts off with a base of sautéed onion and spicy pork sausage. Borscht can be delicious and a great way to eat a ton of vegetables!

Photo Credit: Elsie Hui

Photo Credit: Elsie Hui

You might think of potato salad as being a traditional American dish mostly seen at cook outs and picnics, but in Russia potato salad is one of their most popular dishes. Russian potato salad can also be called Olivier, after the 19th century Belgian chef. “A diced potato salad originally accompanied by luxurious items such as crawfish and grouse, Olivier generally incorporates peas, carrots, salted cucumbers and sometimes other vegetables in a rich mayonnaise dressing,” the AP explains.

Looking for a cheesy treat to pair with your choice of beer or wine? Try Magnolia Cheese Balls, a popular dish that can be found in many Sochi restaurants. Just like an American appetizer, these cheese balls have a base of cheese rolled in dough or breadcrumbs and are fried or baked. There are many twists on this classic, so you can find a version that’s right up your alley!

Everyone loves dumplings, right? Try out Russian dumplings called priozhki which are typically “pockets of yeasty dough filled with ground beef and onion, mushrooms, rice, mashed potatoes and dill, braised cabbage, or even liver and potatoes. You can also try pelmeni, which are like dumplings with a thinner skin, a bit like wontons, and are filled with minced meat, fish or mushrooms, before being boiled. They can be eaten in broth or buttered and served with sour cream. Though both are dumplings, pirozhki are larger, sturdier and usually are baked, while pelmeni are smaller, slippery and generally round.”

Photo Credit: Einalem

Photo Credit: Einalem

Another popular favorite still present in Sochi is Khachapuri, a traditional dish of cheese-filled bread. While the bread can be prepared and shaped in various ways, in Sochi the bread is shaped like a boat. The “boat” is filled with butter, a raw egg and cheese and is eaten by pinching off corners and dipping them in the filling.

If you’re in the mood for some fishy cuisine, try out the Salat Shuba. The name of this dish translates to “Herring Under Fur Coat”. “Herring fillets are literally cloaked by vegetables. This bright pink, layered salad gets its remarkable color from sliced beets. There are also bands of eggs and potatoes, along with diced carrots and onions. Mayonnaise binds the whole thing and it’s often presented in a glass dish so that all the meticulous layers can be appreciated,” Travel Channel explains.

Finally, if you’re visiting Sochi, or creating your own Olympics viewing party, you must try Salo. A raw, unrendered pork fat, Salo is a source of national pride for Russia and practically its own food group. Salo is often frozen so Russians can cut it into very thin pieces, and is often eaten with black bread and topped with onions or raw with cloves of garlic.

What Will the Athletes Eat?

When you’re an Olympic athlete, your body needs fuel to be at its peak performance for the games. Each athlete has a different requirement when it comes to protein, carbs or fats, so the Olympic village has to have a well-rounded assortment of foods available. The IOC must plan for food that meets religious needs as well. “Preparing for the Games is no small task (more than 2 million meals will be served to the volunteers alone). The 400-page International Olympic Committee (IOC) manual is very specific about the food required for the 85 nations competing,” writes Kiri Tannenbaum.

Photo Credit: Tompagenet

Photo Credit: Tompagenet

McDonald’s, an official sponsor of the Olympic Games, will have two 24-hour restaurants in the Athlete’s village and Main Media Center. They will feature the regular menu, but will be introducing a few new menu options to Russia including grilled chicken, frappes and smoothies.

According to NPR’s The Salt, organizers in Sochi are expecting to serve 70,000 gallons of Borscht, a Russian staple to the thousands of athletes and coaches alike.

While borscht and McDonald’s will be popular choices, many other companies are getting in on the Sochi Olympic action. Approximately 1 million Sochi 2014 candy bars have been produced,” Tannenbaum continues, “Baskin Robbins also produced a special ice cream for the Games called Vanilla Light, which contains 50 percent less fat and 20 percent fewer calories than their standard variety. For carb fans, the Sochi Bread-Baking Complex will offer visitors of Olympic Village fresh baked breads, pastries, gingerbread, bagels, and a local tea bread, Sushki.”

Popular Russian favorites such as borscht, blini and pelmeni will also be served. Here’s a detailed look at what all goes in to feeding the Olympics according to this article:

  • 2,100,000: Servings of food for volunteers
  • 70,000: Gallons of borscht expected to be prepared and served during the games
  • 40,000: Total area of catering outlets, in meters squared
  • 30,000: Seating area capacity
  • 8,000: Number of chefs, sous-chefs, cooks, waiters, bartenders and cashiers working the games
  • 7,500: Tons of food prepared and consumed during the games
  • 2,000: Unique dishes for the athletes
  • 1,000: Catering points
  • 15: Average price, in dollars, of lunch for one at the Olympic Park

What traditional Russian dish would you love to try? Will you be having Olympic parties at your restaurant? Let us know in the comments!

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