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Belarus Food and Drink

Belarusian cuisine has evolved from the days where the humble potatoes formed the basis for all dishes. However it still shares many similarities with other Eastern and Northern European countries, being closest to Lithuanian cuisine with a strong Polish influence. Meals are largely based on 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 Belarussian 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. Most popular is Being a landlocked country, don't visit Belarus expecting a wide selection of seafood dishes. Most of the fish available, carp, hake and zander are caught in freshwater (or not so freshwater) lakes.

Specialities

• Belarusian borshch (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

Beer and vodka can be bought round the clock from all-night kiosks and food shops. Coffee is generally available with meals and in cafes, although standards vary. Some bars are open until the early hours of the morning, while some close around 2100. In the bigger cities such as Minsk it is possible to get something to eat at any time. In smaller towns be prepared for this not to be the case. N.B food quality and service in restaurants does vary greatly.

Tipping

10% is usual. 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).