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Eastern European Cuisine – A Quick History

Crops and grains are at the core of Eastern European food. The dishes in Eastern Europe are usually made from rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, and wheat. 

Since many bodies of water and lakes surround Eastern Europe, fish is usually used in most East European dishes and recipes. The Eastern European cuisine was also significantly influenced by Southern, Western, and Northern European cuisines. 

Take a look at the short history of the dishes of different Eastern European countries. 

Czech Republic

Czech Republic cuisine takes a strong influence from the people in the nearby areas. Sauerkraut, roast goose, and dumplings came from German people. Schnitzels or fried and breaded chicken or pork patties came from Austria. There are also notable influences from Hungary and Eastern Europe. Czech Republic is the modern-day crossroad to many other European countries. 


The nomadic people called the Magyars were the first ever Hungarians, arriving around 800 AD in modern-day Hungary. Goulash, the country’s national dish, has its roots traced as far back to the Magyars’ eating habits. These people traveled dried meat cooked with onions. The meats were used for making stews. 


Poland can be found right between Russia and Germany, forcing the country to form numerous alliances that are based on politics through its history. When Bona Sforza, the Italian queen, became Sigismund I of Poland’s second wife in 1518, this encouraged a lot of cooks from Italy to come to Poland. 

This is why leaks, lettuce, celeriac, and cabbage were used more often. Poland also had many foreign dishes including Ukrainian borscht, French pastries, and Hungarian goulash. All of these dishes became part of Polish food’s tradition. 


Russian foods have been historically based on crops growing in the cooler climates such as cabbage, grains, and root vegetables. When Peter I was the ruler, a chef from France was working for him. It is when the Russians began serving meals with several courses instead of everything in one go. From the reign of Peter I to 1917 which marked the beginning of Russian Revolution, it became a common thing for the high-standing families of Russia to have a French chef. 


Ukrainian food has an extensive variety of dishes and loaded with history. The foods in Ukraine have taken influence from foods from Germany, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey. Grains such as barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rye, and wheat are cultivated and baked into various types of breads.

One good example of this is agnauka, a type of flat whole grain loaf that is best enjoyed together with meals. The national meat of the country is pork, with pork fat often added when cooking. This is mainly used for frying although you can also enjoy it smoked.

The dairy products include baked milk and cottage cheese milk. Desserts include sweet breads, cookies, and cakes, that are usually made with honey and fruits such as plums, cherries, and blueberries.  

Check out to find a selection of exciting ingredients that you can use to prepare these Eastern European dishes. 

Tom Clark: Tom, a travel and food blogger, explores the world one dish at a time. His blog is a collection of local cuisines, food culture, and culinary adventures from his travels. His vivid descriptions and beautiful photos make his readers feel like they're dining right alongside him