Russia’s Famous Elixir
There is a drink in Russia that has no equal. This elixir is made by natural fermentation of bread, such as wheat, rye, or barley, and sometimes flavored using fruit, berries, raisins, or birch sap collected in the early spring. It has a very distinctive sour taste that helps prevent infections and keep the heart and circulatory system healthy. This beverage simply makes one feel better as it has lots of vitamins, free amino acids, micro elements and lactic acid. Up until 1985 this was the most popular drink in all of Russia. So what is this wonder drink? It’s Kvas!
Russia’s Native Drink
Kvas has been a common drink in Eastern Europe since at least the Middle Ages, comparable with other ancient fermented grain beverages including beer brewed from barley by the ancient Egyptians, the pombe or millet beer of Africa, the so-called rice wines of Asia, the chicha made with corn or cassava by the natives of America. It is generally accepted that the history of Kvas began in the 10th century. Kvas was invented by the Slavs and became the most popular among East Slavs.The poorest of Slavic families in the 10th century used Kvas as the basis of almost all the dishes they consumed.
“Give food, honey and Kvas to the people”
In Rus the first written mentioning of Kvas was in 989 when Vladimir ordered: ‘Give food, honey and Kvas to the people” during the christianization of the people. Some sources state that Kvas spread to other Slavic nations as early as 988, after the Christianization of the Kievan Rus’. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the first mention of Kvas took place sometime around 1553. In Russia, under Peter the Great, it was the most common non-alcoholic drink in every class of society. In 1799 William Tooke, described Russian drinking habits as follows: “The most common domestic drink is quas, a liquor prepared from pollard, meal, and bread, or from meal and malt, by an acid fermentation. It is cooling and well-tasting.”
A World without Pepsi, Coca Cola, and Fanta
The average Russian could not live without Kvas, it been a part of the Russian culture for centuries. Kvas was drank during work, after work, even before and after meals. Kvas was considered an essential daily beverage. Looking back 20 years ago people would surround the Kvas barrel with cups, cans, or anything else that would hold the beverage. It was a common sight seeing these stands dotted across many Russian cities landscapes. It’s was and still is a thirst quenching beverage that is drank both by solid men and housewives solving the problem of dinner and supper with Kvas okroshka (popular Russian soup). This was a time when children of all ages loved Kvas, it was easily purchased for 3 kopecks. Previous to 1985, Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Pepsi were just not found in Russia.
Kvas increases appetite and has high energetic value. Taste of Kvas impressed the foreigners visiting Russia. Here are the words of Casanova on Kvas: “They have an excellent beverage… it is much much better than Constantinopolitan sherbet. It is easy, tasteful, and is a nutritive beverage and is very cheap.” Even today the price of Kvas is relatively inexpensive. It is not just by mere a chance that many Western European countries are interested in Russian Kvas recipes. In the international competition held in 1975 in Yugoslavia Russian Kvas (from Moscow) got 18 points, and famous coca-cola got only 9.8 points. It’s a drink not just of great taste by truly has no equal.