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Weird History

Unconventional Foods People Ate To Survive In Soviet Russia

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Vote up the most impressive culinary innovations.

The Soviet Union took shape after a series of revolutions during the early 20th century. Characterized by some of its best-known leaders, namely Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union spanned thousands of miles and was made up of hundreds of ethnic groups.

As the administrative and cultural hub of the Soviet Union, Russia was the largest socialist republic. After WWII, Soviet Russia and the whole of the Soviet Union found itself under the authoritarian rule of Josef Stalin, the dictator who implemented collectivist policies, gulags, and other repressive tactics to maintain his power. Standards of living declined and people struggled to survive, often scrounging for whatever food they could find.

As the Cold War progressed, Russian leaders such as Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev brought changes to the Communist stronghold, but finding enough to eat remained a problem for millions. To survive, people often resorted to unconventional foods, drawing upon culinary traditions as much as whatever resources were available. The unconventional fare that found its way onto Russian dinner tables and into the stomachs of hungry Soviets reflected the multiculturalism of the Soviet Union itself while highlighting issues of scarcity and innovation in the kitchen.

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