Portraits of Irkutsk

Siberian Soul Food

На русском

It takes a hardy soul to live in Siberia, and a hardy soul needs hearty fare. This territory of tundra, taiga and torturous temperatures is the realm of carnivores, and the dish most closely associated with Siberia is a meat-filled dumpling called a pelmen. The potstickers stuck to the ribs of the tsar’s early settlers as they moved east and have provided sustenance ever since. Political change has brought culinary change, however; the collapse of the Soviet Union put a dent in the tradition of homemade pelmeni. In capitalist Russia, the dumplings have become a type of fast food, featured at an array of eateries that have sprung up in Irkutsk over the past three decades. At local supermarkets, bags of prepared pelmeni fill entire sections of frozen food bins. Whether made from scratch or not, one thing is clear, pelmeni are a mainstay of the menu in contemporary Irkutsk.

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