Sunday, September 12, 2010

What to Ask Your Russian Friends about Food and Beverage

Part 1. How to drink vodka?

Before I came to Americas, I didn’t know it was a skill. But, apparently too many people on this side of the pond didn’t really know how to enjoy vodka properly. I have seen way too many sad people, depressingly sipping vodka on the rocks from huge scotch glasses at the bar. With a straw! It’s just so wrong. So wrong.

First rule: you do not drink vodka in big amount unless you are a hopeless drunkhead and your main goal is to get wasted. Contrary to the wine, a twist-off cup on a vodka bottle is a sign of quality: a bottle of vodka is not supposed to be finished at once. Vodka is not to be consumed by glasses. Take shots, similar that you use for tequila.

The second rule: always drink vodka ice-cold from chilled shots – no ice. This is another reason why you don’t want your vodka in a big glass: the shot has to be done at ones, before it gets warm. Warm vodka is one of the nastiest things that can find a way to your table.

It is customary and it is smart to have a bite of food right after each vodka shot. Vodka can be a wonderful aperitif, accompanying the appetizers at the beginning of a big meal. Salty and acidic food works the best, such as pickles, pickled mushrooms, salted fish of any kind, sauerkraut – pretty much anything pickled goes, as well as devilled eggs, potato salad and other carb-heavy, mayonnaise-loaded things. Another, a very old-fashion and, to my opinion, a really classy way, is to pair it with hot appetisers and soups. Remember: no cheeses, no tomatoes – they just don’t cooperate well with vodka and could upset the stomach.

One little shot of vodka could be absolutely delightful zesty detail, giving your holiday meal that additional snap factor. It warms you up, stimulates appetite and wonderfully emphasizes the taste of food. But it should not be drunken by itself as, say, a wine, in entertaining purposes after you graduated college.

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