Russia prepares to feed football fans from all over the world during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia next month. National dishes have been amped up, menus translated into foreign languages, and food cart festivals set up in all cities where matches have been scheduled. Kazan is baking over a tonne of the traditional Tatar dessert called chak-chak, Kaliningrad is preparing Lionel Messi's and Cristiano Ronaldo's favorite foods, Saransk will treat its visitors to 'bear paw' cutlets, and Samara plans to quench visitors’ thirsts with some ice cold Zhigulevsky beer.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15. The matches will be held at 12 stadiums in 11 cities - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Samara, and Saransk.
The Food Truck festival will take place in each city on the day of the match, and will feature the most popular local dishes. "Each of the 11 food trucks will have a special menu for their city, to showcase all that the cities have to offer. For example, in Moscow, it will have a mobile kalach station, a special twisted ring-like bread, with different fillings from condensed milk to Murmansk cod liver," said Ekaterina Shapovalova, coordinator of the federal project dubbed the Gastronomic Map of Russia.
Local restaurants have also prepared special menus for the duration of the World Cup and translated them into various languages to prevent any confusion. Some have gone creative, like the restaurant in the Krasnaya Polyana resort Gorki Gorod and set up a whole fan zone by the pool with food items such as Buffon wings, in honor of the famous Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Kazan is planning to lure football fans with ethnic foods from all over Russia, by holding a Tasty Kazan food festival on June 17-18. The main attraction is the world’s largest chak-chak desert, that the organizers hope to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Some Kazan restaurants are changing up the ingredients to suit the teams visiting the city. The traditional Caucasian khachapuri, a cheese and egg pastry, will be made with an ostrich egg, instead of a chicken egg, and will be able feed several people, because of its weight of 2.5 kilograms.
Saransk plans to bake thick Mordovian pancakes made of millet with various fillings. The dish can be compared to something between a crepe and a taco. Other exquisite items are beet root kvas beverage and large beef cutlets called ‘bear paws’.
Yekaterinburg has traditional dumplings called Pelmeni in store for visitors, as well as various delicacies such as squash pancakes with lox, borscht, and solyanka soup. Another sideline event is a food festival featuring culinary classes, and even culinary battles.
Rostov-on-Don has set up a restaurant mile along the river, with fish delicacies, including the fish soup ukha. Some ukha options will include a shot of vodka poured into it.
Beer aficionados will want to stop by Samara and taste its authentic Zhigulevsky beer. While this brand is produced all over Russia, Samara residents are convinced that only their brewers hold the true recipe.
St. Petersburg will offer a spring food festival as well as a list of top-100 restaurants to visit to get a better understanding of the local cuisine.
Each city is ready and willing to provide not just athletic entertainment, but a culinary experience as well.