What to taste in the far-away Siberia? There are several meals that very typical here. First of all, Omul – yummy-yummy Baikal salmon, famous around all Russia. Try it fresh, salted, cold-smoked in Irkutsk, or hot-smoked in Listvyanka and Slyudyanka.
Buuz (do not confuse with booze :)) is traditional Buryat big dumplings, cooked in special bowl on hot steam. Local people always eat them from 1 to 15 at once, some locals say it’s healthy alternative to McDonalds. They are cheap and usually made of good beef.
Want some sweets? Okay, we have Cedar grillage candies, very tasty and nutricious, made of local cedar nuts, that you can buy on the Central market during August and September.
Zhivitsa (or “sera” in Russian) is unusual brown chewing gum that seems to be the only natural one. It is made from trees sap. When you chew it, it’s soft, but once you take it from the mouth, it becomes hard, and then you have to chew it some time to make it soft again.
Local drinks. If you will come to Lake Baikal during summer, you will see many yellow tanks in cities and towns. It’s so called “kvas”, traditional Russian non-alcohol drink, made from yeast, it’s sweet and cold and that means very good when it’s warm. If you want a herbal tea, ask Sagaan-Dalya (Rhododendron adamsii Rehder), it’s refreshing herb, just add 1 or 2 leaves for the teapot, no more unless you want to have hallucination (no kidding). Alcohol? If you want to try local beer, buy Bagira’s beer, just ask it in supermarket. If you want to try Soviet old-school beer, buy “Zhigulevskoe” or “Admiral Kolchak”. Irkutsk is the homeland for federal Irish pub chain Harat’s, and many local people like it, it’s good place to meet with locals.