Traditions of local cuisine date back to the times when people settled on this land. The peoples living here are mostly Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Mordvinians, Tatars, people from Caucasus, Turkish immigrants, Kurds and many others. The diversity of cultures and traditions in Tambov made an impact on gastronomic features of the region. Of course, among the dishes of Tambov cuisine there are some special local victuals.
The basics of Tambov cuisine is peasant food. Tambov delicacies were known far outside the province. Muscovites used to travel to Tambov to buy soused apples with oak and cherry tree leaves, succulent pickles spiced with horseradish and sauerkraut.
The main dishes of Tambov cuisine were associated with the calendar-ritual cycle. Like in any other Russian region, every stage of human life was celebrated with a special set of dishes – a birth of a baby, a wedding, a funeral. The center of the wedding table had always been occupied by a round loaf. Christmas had always been special with a Christmas goose filled with apples served to the table. Easter cake and paskha (made of cottage cheese) remain an essential decoration of Easter table.
Traditional Tambov cuisine includes salamata – wheat porridge-like bread stewed in the oven; ushnik – a type of soup with entrails; field soup on potato broth with fried empty pumpkin blossom clusters and cucumbers; potato trickled pastries. Smokva, the fruit leather, was served as a dessert. It is baked ashberry with pieces of beet rubbed through a sieve and dried in the oven.
Special dishes were served in the families of the gentry. Thus, in the Stroganovs‘ house the arrowwood berries were cooked in a special way. Ripe berries were stewed with rye flour and honey. The dish was served as a dessert. The Boratynskies‘ estate in Kirsanov uyezd was famous for its tastiest cakes with pieplant. The stems of pieplant were melted in the oven and tasted like fruit jelly.
Nowadays it is difficult to find places to taste these desserts. Besides, modern gourmets might not appreciate their taste. Traditional dishes can be found in some remote places or at the International Pokrov trade-fair in Tambov. Visiting Tambov you should taste Tambov potatoes, meat hock, delicious Tambov honey, Bondari cheese and Michurinsk apples.