If you’re Russian or have Russian friends, you’ve probably been privy to some pretty weird Russian food concoctions. And we’re not talking about the pink mayo, herring-under-fur-coat, thing!
Beyond BuzzFeed’s bizarre Russian food, we wanted to know whether some of the oldest wives tales about Russian food hacks are actually true.
For example — does drinking pickle juice really cure a hangover? Can beet kvass really beat fatigue? And can freezing vodka really get rid of that awful smell?
We’re shedding light on four weird Russian food hacks that actually work.
Cure Your Hangover with Pickle Juice
Can drinking brine, or pickle juice, really cure a hangover? Hangovers are an extreme dehydration of the body after consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Dehydration is basically the removal of water and salt from the body. Brine is essentially salt water with spices. In Russian brine is rassol – literally sated water.
Why It Works: Drinking brine, or pickle juice, replenishes the salt and water content within the blood. It’s like rehydrating a dried mushroom. The body absorbs the salty brine faster than just plain water.
Hate the taste of vodka? Freeze it!
In Russia, vodka does not get diluted with sweet juices or flavored tonics. It stands up as a strong beverage — no additives needed. So what do you do about that distilled alcohol taste and smell? You freeze it.
Vodka has been Russia’s signature spirit for hundreds of years. It became the drink of choice in Russian in the mid 1800’s when Tsar Alexander issued a decree to promote consumption of state-manufactured vodka. Pretty soon even the low-income people were drinking vodka like it was water, chasing it with boiled potatoes and smoked fish.
Why It Works: Because of its high alcohol volume, vodka doesn’t actually freeze. But putting it in the freezer gives it a lovely syrupy texture. As a bonus, freezing vodka also gets rid of the potent smell and taste. It’s probably one of the best kept Russian life hack secrets to drinking vodka without throwing up after every shot.
Don’t Skip Zakuski
Russian zakuski typically include a hodgepodge of salty appetizers that are high in fat content. Think salami cold cuts, hard cheese, salty fish, herring, pickled vegetables, mayo-laden salads and home-made vegetable spreads.
Why It Works: Beyond the hospitality factor of offering (and consuming!) as much food as humanly possible in one sitting, zakuski are the absolute key to not getting drunk when vodka shots are filled more frequently than water glasses. The greasy, salty foods help the body absorb the alcohol before it has a chance to experience intoxication.
Beat Fatigue with Beet Kvass
Russians have been enjoying kvass for at least a thousand years. You’ve probably heard, or even tried, traditional kvass made from dark rye or borodinsky bread. But did you know that there is a beet kvass?
Beet Kvass is a fermented drink made from beets is revered for its medicinal properties. In Europe, beet kvass is thought to be highly therapeutic treatment for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems. Anecdotal reports suggest beet kvass may even improve the appearance of age spots, thicken hair and minimize graying of hair.
Why It Works: beets are used to boost immune function, cleanse blood, combat fatigue and treat kidney stones. The natural enzymes and vitamins in beet kvass can also aid with digestive problems.
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