Famous “Russian” Recipes Which Actually Aren’t Russian

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Russian chefs have given us plenty to be thankful for – from hearty recipes like the ones for pelmeni, shchi, rassolnik, beef Stroganoff and blini to not so easy on the stomach meals like stroganina and selyodka pod shuboy. Nevertheless, there are many foods which are wrongfully contributed to the Russian cuisine thanks to the fact that the Russian Empire and the USSR have popularized them through the centuries. Moreover, in some cases Russian chefs are even credited with not-so-Russian dishes simply because their names sound like they have Russian roots. Here’s a list of the most famous non-Russian recipes out there, which are subjected to this trend.

Olivier salad

Albeit commonly referred to as the Russian salad, the Olivier salad was created by the Frenchman Lucien Olivier in the 1860s. Surprisingly enough, his salad had little to no in common with the present-day dish that became widespread during Soviet times. Olivier used veal tongue, caviar, capers, grouse meat, lettuce, smoked duck and crayfish tails – neither of which is found in the common Olivier salads today. The mayonnaise we use nowadays was a special dressing made out of French wine vinegar and olive oil from the French Provence area, mixed with mustard and egg yolks. One of his Russian sous-chefs, Ivanov, altered the original recipe and popularized his own version, which was quite similar to the one we know nowadays.

Strawberries Romanoff

It may sound Russian, but it isn’t. Falsely contributed to Michael Romanoff (a self-proclaimed highborn Russian royalty who resided in Hollywood), this dessert has nothing to do with Russian culture. Romanoff’s real name was Hershel Geguzin and he was a Lithuanian-born conman whose star-studded Beverly Hills restaurant Romanoff’s popularized the dish during the mid-1900s. Its true creator, however, was a French chef named Georges Escoffier who came up with it during his time at London’s Carlton Hotel.

Cake Pavlova

Well-known all over the globe, this creamy strawberry delight was named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, but that’s about as Russian as it gets. The dessert is the brainchild of a New Zealander hotel chef who was inspired by the dancer during her tour in New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s.

Black Russian

Back in 1949 Gustave Tops, a Belgian mixologist, put together five parts vodka to two parts coffee liquor, poured it over ice cubes and served it at a luxurious hotel in Brussels in honor of the former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, Carl Sargent. Entitled Black Russian due to the liquor’s dark color and the popular Russian alcoholic spirit, today’s version of this cocktail is two parts vodka to one part Kahlua liquor, garnished with cherries, cola and other flavorful toppings.

White Russian

Just like its darker cousin, the Black Russian, the White Russian isn’t Russian in terms of origin. It’s unclear who created the very first White Russian, although the beverage’s very first recorded mention is in a Californian newspaper from the 1960s. The initial recipe called for 1:1 Southern Comfort (an old American whisky flavored liquor), vodka and cream. Today’s most common white ingredients are fresh cream, milk or half and half.


Famous across a vast variety of countries in Eurasia, the shashlik is often credited to the Russians. Contrary to popular belief though, the skewered dish didn’t even reach Russian grounds up until the late 1800s whilst under the reign of the Russian Empire. It originated as a local dish of old Caucasian tribes and its name is derived from Turkic languages. Numerous shashlik variations gained worldwide fame after the popularization of the dish in Moscow and Saint Petersburg restaurants throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

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