Hа здоровье!

Time for a travel post!

Our first night in Europe was spent in Helsinki, Finland. We booked a hotel room and settled in, then met up with Cheesler’s Russian friends, N & V. They had taken a bus from St. Petersburg to visit for one night before heading back the next morning. Naturally, the items on our agenda were dinner, and a vodka party to follow.

Now, the vodka party is a long-practised tradition in Russia, and has a strictly regimented structure. It is not only the consumption of their treasured vodka that is so important, but the commemoration of its history and significance as their national drink.

I have applied a “seventies” action to these photos to give it a real soviet feel. The fact that its in a hotel room makes it real nice and classy too.

Anyway, back to the traditions….First of all, only vodka is drunk, and it is taken in shots, not sipped or mixed. The person who opens and pours the first bottle must continue to pour the shots all night. Each time a shot is poured, a toast is made, and each person takes turns making the toast. (Hа здоровье!)

The toasts should go in a particular order. The first toast is in honour of the occasion, or to friendship, or to the special person if there is one (ie: birthday); the second toast is in honour of the host; the third toast is to love. After the third toast, it’s pretty loose, because by that point everyone has already had three shots. After each shot, you must have a Zakuska, which is the Russian equivalent to an appetiser.

We had pumpernickel bread rounds, red and black caviar, salami slices, pickles, sausages, weiners and some kind of kraut-like cabbage thing. Alternatively, you may have a shot of juice. The “chaser” of food or juice after the shot helps to neutralize the alcohol and allows you to drink for longer, and drink more. When the bottle is empty, it must be placed under the table.

Oops, we should have moved that lamp before taking the photo. Oh well, one doesn’t consider such minutiae after 7 shots of Russkie Standard.

We got through two bottles between the four of us. Now, you may be thinking, how is that even possible? It’s the food, I tell you! I woke up with no trace of a hangover the next morning, and my, did it ever help the jetlag to have a deep, vodka induced sleep that night!

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Food, Travel

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  1. 2010 in review – thanks for reading! « Soph n' Stuff - January 2, 2011

    […] Hа здоровье! October 2010 1 comment 4 […]

  2. Riga, Latvia « Soph n' Stuff - December 1, 2010

    […] a bar that specialized in the traditional Russian drinking of vodka and zakuski, which you know I am already familiar with. We also saw the current Latvian Academy of Sciences, which was described as “Stalin’s […]

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