Instafood: Who to follow besides Jamie Oliver

RBTH sought out the most appetizing Russian Instagram accounts and suggests that you drop everything and cook some sour shchi (starter), beef Stroganoff (main), vatrushka (dessert) and some compote right now.

Russian chefs rarely bother with Instagram. They generally have better things to do. But there are some enthusiasts, for example, Andrei Rudkov, a head chef and traveler from Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East, whose juicy photos of food have already won over 230,000 followers. The culinary descriptions are in Russian, but for inspiration it’s the real deal.

Instagram works no worse in Russia than anywhere else in the world. In the harsh environment of likes and followers, the unwritten rule “cell phone pictures only” is long forgotten, so now the app features beautifully staged shots taken with professional cameras plus all kinds of light trickery and special effects concocted by resourceful food stylists.

The most active Instagram users in Russia are young girls. Many of them love and know how to cook. What’s more, despite the flourishing of feminism around the world, in Russia it's considered unseemly for a young lady (married or marriageable) not to know how to cook. There are two types: young mothers who stay at home with the kids and entertain themselves by cooking, and ladies who are into healthy living, i.e. how to eat well but not put on weight / how to avoid allergies / how to diet or fast.

Both groups often come up with their own creations. Once prepared and shared, photos of meals can go viral. Customers start appearing. Friends tell friends who tell friends, and it risks becoming one’s occupation. There are plenty of such examples. Confectioners generally do the best trade, for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately, a quick browse of these accounts reveals a sad truth: promoters of Russian cuisine are few and far between. Among all the bruschetta and pastrami, there’s very little buckwheat with sausage. Incidentally, take a look at the Instagram account @russianfoodieproject, where besides Russian food, there’s a delightful cat.

Now for the ace up the sleeve: our Instagram account @rbth_table. It works like a matryoshka doll (yes, we’re from Russia). Go to the account, feast your eyes on the New Year table, click on any dish you fancy and be taken straight to a dedicated page, for example, Olivier (aka Russian) salad, and follow the links for a detailed description and the recipe. Kids gonna like it.

Sometimes the food's so good there’s no time to take pictures of it - you suddenly end up with an empty plate. Well-known Russian blogger and designer Tema Lebedev is a case in point. Having had his fair share of empty plates, now he collects pictures of, yes, empty plates. With obligatory captions explaining what was once there. This, for example, is — or was — potato zrazy (stuffed cutlets) with giblets.

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