Belarus Commonly Used Foods
Belorussian foods are almost identical to Russian and Polish preferences and dishes, but the names of the dishes may vary. Dairy products used liberally include sour cream, milk and sweet cream as ingredients and as additions to prepared foods. As in Russian cuisine, there are few dishes that are not improved with generous additions of melted butter and blobs of thick sour cream.
Hardy vegetables such as onions, potatoes, beets, cabbage, pumpkin, and varieties of squash and mushrooms, especially wild mushrooms, are used almost daily, and fresh young vegetables such as tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, sweet peas, radishes, spinach, and sorrel are enjoyed in season. Fermented sauerkraut and dill pickles are enjoyed year-round as side dishes to almost every meal. Herbs are used fresh in season and dried for winter use. Especially popular are dill and parsley. Wild and cultivated berries and fruits such as plums, peaches, cherries, apples, and pears are a special treat when fresh but are carefully preserved for winter use.
Pork, beef, and chicken as well as some goose and duck are used for special occasions and use is made of every part including organs and offal. Very occasionally veal or lamb are used. If available, game is enjoyed. A wide variety of sausages and smoked meats add to the variety and even small amounts of meat, over-browned bones, and boiled soup meat is minced and used to flavor potato, cabbage, or grain dishes.
Pork fat and chicken, goose and duck fat are carefully rendered and used to flavor other dishes and may be used as a spread for bread. Cracklings are often served with dark heavy rye bread and a bowl of hearty soup as a meal.
A wide variety of breads including sourdough rye, pumper-nickel, wholegrain rolls and breads and many basic yeast dough pre-pared as filled buns or dumplings round out meals. Boiled or baked grains such as barley, buckwheat, and coarse wheat and rye whole-grains are generously served with melted butter and sour cream. Baked, boiled, or fried dumplings filled with cheese, meat, or chopped vegetables are ingeniously served as appetizers, main dishes in soups, or with sweet fruit fillings as desserts. Baked desserts rich with butter, cream, and eggs also round out otherwise simple soup meals.
The Polish influence of adding sugar to heighten the taste of soups and salad dressings is also evident.
Like all Slavic food, Belorussian dishes excel in heartiness and ample portions, and are always served with the Slavic tradition of warm and generous hospitality that no amount of hardship can erase. (See also Baltic Peoples, Jewish, Polish, and Russian.)