A Russian Spice Chest
A detailed picture of the contents of a Russian spice chest is contained in the Domostroi, a Russian household management manual written in Muscovy between 1550 and 1600. It mentions the following spices and favourings:
[this list is drawn from Carol Johnston Pouncey, ed. and trans., The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1994.]
Some further information, for various eras, can be drawn from references in R.E.F. Smith and David Christian, Bread and Salt: A social and economic history of food and drink in Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).
Hemp and flax seed were used, from early times, both directly and as a source of oil. [p. 7] Hemp seed was a common component of food alllowances in the 16th century. [p. 21]
Garlic and onions were described as prevalent by visitors in the early 17th century [p. 9]
Lemons, preserved in salt, were imported. Lemon rinds were a snack in the early 17th century. [p. 9]
Imported spices (such as pepper, ginger, cloves, saffron, and coriander) became commoner in the 16th and 17th centuries. [p. 9]
Hops (khmel')were used to flavour beer from the 11th century onwards. [p. 75] They grew wild in northern Russia; from the 13th century on hops were a regular item of trade in Novgorod and Pskov. [p. 78]
In 1667 a Polish embassy in Moscow was provided the following spices by the tsar: loaf sugar, cinnamon, saffron, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, pepper, anise, and caraway. The spices totalled 381 pounds (including 18 pounds of saffron alone). [p. 120]
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Author: David Dendy © 1998-2002
This page was last updated on 17/02/02.