Here’s another July 2010 food memory from our trans-siberian journey. Our longest train journey on this trip was going from Irkutsk (in Siberia) to Moscow, a journey of 84 hours, which stretched into 88 because of a delay.
We bought some jam, peanut butter, ramen, and other snack food in Irkutsk before we boarded. There are definitely meal compartments on the train, but to save money we usually assembled our own food. The train would make a longer stop (10-30 minutes) every few hours, and during these stops we bought groceries on the platform.
Typical food we bought along the railway included a salty salami-like sausage, a hunk of cheese (similar to havarti), dark bread, and–if we were lucky–some fresh veg, like tomatoes and cucumbers. We’d get a box of juice and occasionally a beer, and either sit on the platform and build sandwiches or do that in our compartment.
Many local Russians we met brought their own food too rather than eat in the meal cars, though admittedly they packed up with a lot more grace than us with our shrink-wrapped salami. One of our compartment neighbors stored a picnic basket/cooler under his bench and had salads, chicken, and gradually moved to canned foods as the days went on.
My biggest regret in traveling Russia that summer was not getting a proper phrase book!! I learned to pronounce cyrillic letters before we left, but we relied too heavily on our guide book which had a few pages of phonetic words (e.g. PEE-vo) but without the cyrillic on there. Too bad, as we only had “sign” conversations with our compartment neighbors in our 4-day journey.