History of Eastern European Cuisine

Eastern European food is based on grains and crops. The food in Eastern Europe is often made from barley, rye, wheat, millet, and buckwheat. Rye is still used today to made dark bread, which is especially common in Russia and the countries around it. Because Eastern Europe is surrounded by many lakes and bodies of water, fish is often used in East European recipes and dishes. The cuisine of Eastern Europe was greatly influenced by the cuisines of Western, Northern, and Southern Europe. Pancakes, breads, berries, and meat are very important in Eastern European cuisine as well. Cold and hot soups are also vital dishes. All kinds of fruits and vegetables are grown in Eastern Europe. These include cherries, apricots, cucumbers, figs, apples, and eggplant. Spices and herbs include peppers, mint, basil, and dill. The climate is also great for growing root vegetables such as onions, garlic, turnips, beets, and radishes. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and chestnuts are important ingredients as well. A characteristic of Eastern European cuisine is the preservation of food. Eastern European use many ways of preserving food such as drying (mushrooms), pickling (vegetables such as cabbage, beets, cucumbers, lemons), smoking (fish), salting (meat), and alcohol preservation (fruits such as pears and apples). Goulash from Hungary, Polish pierogi, and Russia's borscht (made from beets) are just a few of the native dishes in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, you can also find Bulgarian banitsa and Czech knedliky.


The food in Ukraine is loaded with history and has a wide array of dishes. Ukrainian foods are influenced by food from Germany, Turkey, Poland, Lithuania and Russia. Grains like rye, barley, oats, wheat, corn and buckwheat are grown and baked into many different kinds of breads. An example is agnautka, which is a flat whole grain loaf enjoyed with meals. Pork is the national meat and pork fat is commonly used when cooking. It's mostly used for frying but can often be eaten smoked. Dairy products include cottage cheese milk, and baked milk. Desserts include cakes, cookies, sweet breads, which are often made with fruits and honey as well as blueberries, cherries and plums.

Czech Republic

The cuisine in the Czech Republic has been strongly influenced over time by the people in the surrounding areas. From the German people came sauerkraut, dumplings and roast goose. From Austria came schnitzels, which are breaded and fried pork or chicken patties. There are also influences from Eastern Europe and Hungary. The Czech Republic is a modern day crossroad to the other countries of Europe.


The first Hungarians were nomadic people known as the Magyars. They arrived in modern day Hungary around 800 AD. The national dish of Hungary, goulash, goes all the way back to the eating habits of the Magyars. They would travel with dried meat that was cooked with onions. These meats were used to make stews.


Historically, the foods in Russia have been based on crops that grow in cooler climates including root vegetables, grains and cabbage. During the reign of Peter I, there was a French chef working for him. This is when the Russians started to serve meals with courses, rather than all at one time. From the rule of Peter I to the 1917 when the Russian Revolution started, it was common for high-standing Russian families to have a French chef.


Poland is located right between Germany and Russia, which has forced the country to create many alliances based on politics throughout its history. When the Italian queen Bona Sforza became the second wife of Sigismund I of Poland in 1518, it encouraged many cooks to come to Poland from Italy. Therefore cabbage, celeriac, lettuce and leeks were used much more often. There were other foreign dishes that also came to Poland including Hungarian goulash, French pastries and Ukrainian borscht. These dishes have all become part of the tradition of Polish food.