Dazed Digital

Moscow / Русский

The Hungry Russian: Lyudmila Vayner

February 16, 2012

On the eve of the traditional Russian holiday, Maslenitsa Lyudmila is delving into the history of pancakes

  • Text by Kemal Tarba

Guest feature by Lyudmila Vayner

Pancakes are baked all year round, but they are also considered to be the symbol, and main dish of Maslenitsa  - one of the most popular folk festivals in Russia. Traditionally the week of Maslenitsa was divided into two parts, during the first three days of the week people were allowed to engage in domestic work, but during the second part indulged in massive celebrations. Each day had its own name and was accompanied by its own special ceremonies.

For the pancakes to come out fluffy and delicious, on the evening before Maslenitsa, the oldest woman in the family travels to a local river or well and requests the moon to look into her window and blow onto the mixture. Then, the next day, the first pancakes are laid out on the window sill so that any stranger passing by can eat them.

In the old days pancakes were made  a little differently than they are now. People used both wheat flour and oats, as well as buckwheat and corn, and in addition to the dough they also added millet or semolina, apples, pumpkins, potatoes and cream. Each family had its own recipe for pancakes, never revealed to outsiders, and passed down from generation to generation.

On the one hand, pancakes are not that difficult to prepare. On the other, you can find a lot of nuances and little tricks that can be absolutely essential to achieve a good result. For example, you need to know the optimal amount of dough that should be poured into the pan so that the pancake doesn't turn out too thick, but also not too thin. It is also necessary to keep control of the process and take into account when to flip them. If done correctly, the pancake will come out soft, porous and extremely delicious.

During Maslenitsa week, many Moscow restaurants add to their menu a set of pancakes. Satellite Voices editors canceled all their diets for a week, and instead tasted pancake after glorious pancake. The result of our survey, you can't go wrong with the delicious pancakes served in café Pushkin and the traditional Russian restaurant Ded Pihto. Bon appetite and happy Maslenitsa! 

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