Although Russia has an extensive tradition of dairy products including fresh cheese, ripened and aged cheeses were introduced from abroad at least by the seventeenth century, and they immediately took on all sorts of new meanings. Cheese was a commodity, an object of international trade. Cheese was the product of technology that Russians came to hope to master. And cheese was part of the world of taste and cultural change, finding its place on the tables of the elite and, eventually, of a wider population.
Alison K. Smith is a professor of history at the University of Toronto. Her research has focused on the social and cultural history of Imperial Russia. Her work on the history of food in Russia includes Recipes for Russia: Food and Nationhood under the Tsars and a forthcoming general history of food in Russia to be published by Reaktion Books. Recent work on the palace and town of Gatchina, outside St. Petersburg, has also uncovered a secret history of cheese in the region, some of which has appeared on russianhistoryblog.org.