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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Belarus

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Belarus Food and Drink

Belarusian cuisine has evolved unrecognisably from the days where the humble potato formed the basis of every dish. Though it has modernised, it still shares many similarities with other Eastern and Northern European countries - the closest counterpart being Lithuanian cuisine, and also possesses some strong Polish influences. Meals are largely based on a balance of meat and vegetables, and gastronomy is still influenced by the countries of Soviet days past, a period which saw a number of Belarusian culinary traditions being lost. Increasingly, your average Belarusian will take a greater interest in Italian or Chinese cuisine than in their own culinary traditions.

In addition to Belarusian dishes, there is also a good selection of international and Russian specialities available. The Belarusians love their mushrooms – and mushroom gathering is a traditional pastime. As a result mushrooms will pop up in a variety of guises on menus across the country. While picking your own is a popular activity and can provide delicious possibilities, you should be careful when doing so and consult an expert if you aren't able to identify a type of mushroom.

Being a landlocked country, don't visit Belarus expecting a wide selection of seafood dishes. Most of the fish available are caught in freshwater lakes so you're likely to only find carp, hake and zander here.

Specialities

• Belarusian borscht (soup made with beetroot, served hot and with sour cream).
Hribnoy sup (delicious mushroom and barley soup).
Kotleta pokrestyansky (pork smothered in a mushroom sauce).
• Filet à la Minsk and Minsk cutlet.
Dracheny (a local tasty potato dish with mushrooms).
Draniki (potato pancakes served with pickled berries).
Mochanka (thick soup mixed with lard accompanied by hot pancakes).

Things to know

As of October 1, 2018, the sale of alcohol in Belarus is prohibited after 11pm until 7am. Coffee is generally available around the clock at all night kiosks and in cafes, although standards vary. Some establishments are open until the early hours of the morning, however the majority are closed before midnight, particularly in cities outside of Minsk and Brest.

Tipping

Tipping is relatively uncommon in Belarus, so rounding up the cheque or leaving 10% is acceptable. In some hotels in Minsk and other cities a 10 to 15% service charge is added to the bill. Porters expect a tip of US$1-2.

Regional drinks

Beloveszhskaya Bitters (bitters made from over 100 different herbs which have an interesting flavour).
Kvas (a flavoursome drink made from malt, flour, sugar, mint and fruit).
• Chai (black tea).