Russian at the UofA

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What can YOU do with Russian?

 Careers that require or benefit from the knowledge of Russian:

  • Translator/ Interpreter 
  • US Navy
  • US Army
  • UN
  • CIA
  • Hospitals
  • Courts
  • Military technology
  • Managerial professions 
  • Retail (Walmart, Tyson)
  • Auto Industry (Ford, GM)
  • Computer technology
  • Natural Resources: oil and gas industries 
  • Jobs in companies mining natural resources: timber, aluminum, nickel, copper, gold, platinum, diamonds
  • Market analysis 
  • Nanotechnology 
  • NASA/ Aeronautical Professions 
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medicine
  • International Law (including adoptions)

Interesting Facts about Russia

  • Peter the Great wanted to make Russia a European country at all costs, so he introduced "a beard tax"- everyone who chose to wear a traditional Russian beard had to pay for the privilege. 
  • Driving a dirty vehicle is a legal offense in Russia. 
  • Some stereotypical Russian hobbies include mushroom hunting, spanking each other with birch branches in the banya (=sauna), and (a more exotic thing) polar bear swimming. 
  • Dmitri Mendeleev invented the Periodic System of Elements, as well as the classic vodka ratio. In his free time, he made suitcases.

Russian Cuisine

Russian national cuisine is tightly connected with Russian history, climate, lifestyle, politics, and religion.

Old Russian (IXth-XVIth c.)

Domostroy, written in the times of Ivan the Terrible, presents a detailed account of Old Russian cuisine. After Russia converted to Christianity in 988 CE, all dishes split into two groups: “restricted,” eaten during lent, and “regular,” or everyday food. For everyday cooking, Russians preferred grandma’s recipes and passed them down from generation to generation. Food was simple and hardly diverse, and typically, a dish consisted of one ingredient; however, a variety of breads were ever-present on the table. Rye bread was the widely consumed daily bread, for Russians believed that it could cure diseases, while wheat bread was reserved for feasts. Food was baked, pickled, or smoked. For centuries, the dominant piece in Russian houses was a huge oven that was used for heating and cooking, so baking was naturally the most popular way of preparing food. Food was placed inside the Russian oven in a closed pot, and it stayed there, over even heat, for hours. Foods were never cooked over open fire or fried. It was not until the Mongol invasion in 1223 that frying was introduced as a cooking method into Russian cuisine.

Cuisine of Muscovite Russia (XVIIth c.)

Until the 17th century, the division between the rich and the poor was not in the dishes consumed, but in the amount of food eaten. In the 17th century, Russian aristocracy (the boyars) gained access to foreign and exotic goods, such as black caviar, and rich families started competing by throwing feasts which consisted of about 50 exotic dishes. The royal kitchen was known to serve up to 200 dishes in one night. Boyars’ chefs altered traditional Russian dishes by making them more complex. They also borrowed heavily from other national cuisines, especially oriental and Eastern European.

Times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great (XVIIIth c.)

 One of Peter the Great’s reforms was the reform of Russian cuisine. Peter tried new dishes and products, and encouraged Russians to grow and consume new, diverse, and exotic ingredients. For example, Peter introduced potatoes to Russia. Initially, peasants called them “the devil’s fruit” and got food poisoning from eating potato leaves, but over time they learned to harvest potato root, and soon potatoes became as essential part of Russian cuisine. Peter also introduced a stovetop kitchen range, which allowed for more versatile cooking techniques. Catherine the Great followed European culinary fashion and introduced exquisite presentation and more complex cooking processes into Russian cuisine. Dishes were served in the order that we are using today: first cold snacks, then hot snacks or soup, followed by entrée and dessert. A novelty for Russian cuisine at the time was the use of cold snacks as separate meals. Popular breakfast choices included European-style sandwiches made with butter, French and Dutch cheeses, along with traditional Russian ham, salted pork, caviar, smoked and salted fish.

Petersburg Cuisine (end of the XVIIIth century-1860s)

Starting with the last quarter of the 18th century, Petersburg, the new capital of Russia, dictated culinary fashion. First Russian cookbooks were published in 1790. In those books, traditional recipes were put next to European dishes. The Napoleonic wars (1812) led to the rise of patriotism, which, in turn, revived an interest in Russian national cuisine. Russian borrowed foreign dishes in the 18thcentury, but in the 19th century French chefs reinvented Russian dishes using French techniques and sophisticated ingredients. Chefs also started mixing products for snacks, creating vinaigrettes, salads, and multi-ingredient garnishes.

General Russian National Cuisine (1860s-beginning of the XXth c.)

With the abolition of serfdom, former peasants from all over the Russian Empire flocked to big cities. Many of them were hired to work at restaurants and enriched menus with their family dishes, such as pelmeni (Russian dumplings) and kurnik (chicken pie), etc. Under the supervision of foreign chefs, Russian cuisine of late XIXth century gained finesse and diversity comparable to that of French cuisine. Main items of Russian cuisine were soups and breads, rye bread in particular. Russians’ love for soups led them to embrace Ukrainian dishes, such as borscht. Unfortunately, as old-style Russian stoves disappeared, the original taste of many traditional Russian dishes was lost. Contemporary oven ranges cannot replicate the cooking conditions of the stove, and even culinary experts and tweaking of recipes does not lead to the creation of exact replicas.

 Russian-Eurasian Student Organization: RESO

The University of Arkansas has a Registered Student Organization, Russian-Eurasian Student Organization (RESO), and all students are welcome and encouraged to participate in the RSO’s activities which include, but are not limited to watching and discussing Russian and Soviet movies, listening to Russian opera, experiencing Russian ballet, trying ice skating, playing volleyball, becoming tea connoisseurs, and checking out Russian art and food in Tulsa, Kansas City, Dallas, etc.

Study Abroad

Note: if you are interested, speak with Nadja Berkovich to discuss various opportunities in more detail. There are a lot of Russian study abroad programs. Please, do some research before sending your money to some obscure location.


Interested in Russian?

For further information, please, contact Nadja Berkovich, Kimpel Hall 511, 575-5946, or look at Course Listings and Study Abroad.