Power dining: what did the world’s Cold War leaders get for dinner at the Kremlin?

Food and the New East

What did the world’s most powerful leaders get to eat when they went for dinner at the Kremlin during the Cold War? Find out in these menus of Kremlin state receptions from the 1960s and 70s

16 July 2015
Read more Artist Taus Makhacheva puts geopolitics on the table

What did the world’s most powerful leaders get to eat when they went for dinner at the Kremlin in the Sixties and Seventies? With the Cold War raging, the guests of Soviet presidents Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev tended to come from Eastern Europe (Tito), the Middle East (Nasser, Sadat) and other fraternal states like Cuba (Castro). Geopolitics also demanded a place at the table for America, with Kissinger visiting in 1973 and Gorbachev hosting Reagan in 1988, during the last crumbling years of the Soviet empire.

In these menus of Kremlin state receptions, it’s clear that kings and presidents could look forward to a generous repast. Caviar was always a fixture along with old reliables like salmon, sturgeon and varieties of borscht. And there were occasional attempts to tailor cuisine with a guest in mind (Moroccan-style lamb for the king of Morocco!). It’s anyone’s guess though what visitors made of some of the more recherché local offerings such as lampreys in mustard sauce or coulibiac, a type of pie, served with vyaziga, the dry spinal cord of a sturgeon.

Better not to turn your nose up though. Diplomatic incidents have been started over less.


King Hassan II and Nikita Khrushchev

Breakfast for the king of Morocco

20 July 1966

King Hassan II of Morocco ‘s arrival in USSR. Image: A. Cheprunov/ RIA Novosti

Black and red caviar with lemon and butter
Fish assortment
Roast beef with spicy sauce
Salad. Cream of mushroom soup
Oriental-style salmon. Moroccan-style lamb. Fresh vegetables.
Pineapple layer cake



Josip Broz Tito and Nikita Khrushchev

Dinner for the president of Yugoslavia

April 29 1968

Caviar. Rasstegai pasties
Fresh crabs with fish assortment
Roasted pheasant with fruit. Spring salad
Moscow borscht or cream of asparagus soup
Steamed trout with champignon mushrooms. Turkey schnitzel with vegetables
Fruit ice cream
Tea, coffee, almonds, fruit



Muhammad Anwar Sadat and Nikita Khrushchev

Reception for the president of Egypt

October 12 1971

President Anwar Sadat of Egypt (middle) in Tehran, later, in 1975. Image: Kayhan Int.

Caviar. Kolach breads with fish
Fish assortment. Game and poultry assortment. Salad
Light borscht with spicy croutons. Cream of crab soup
Baked sturgeon. Saddle of lamb on a bed of rice
Baked Alaska
Coffee, tea, fruits




Gamal Abdel Nasser and Nikita Khrushchev

Reception for the president of the United Arab Republic

June 30 1970

Caviar. Coulibiac
Fish assortment
Stuffed veal. Salad
Sterlet soup. Leningrad-style pickle soup.
Atlantic salmon with zesty sauce. Lamb skewers.
Strawberry ice cream
Coffee, tea and fruit




Fidel Castro and Leonid Brezhnev

Dinner for the president of Cuba

June 27 1972

Caviar. Coulibiac with vyaziga (dry spinal cord of sturgeon)
Jellied Atlantic salmon with prawns
Tenderloin with layers of veal
Salad, lightly pickled cucumbers
Broth with pancake
Skewered starry sturgeon. Roast lamb with vegetables
Cranberry plombir ice cream
Coffee, tea, fruit



Henry Kissinger and Leonid Brezhnev

Dinner for the secretary of state of the United States of America

January 21 1976

President Ford, Leonid Brezhnev, and Kissinger. Image: David Hume Kennerly under a CC licence

Caviar. Rasstegai pasties
Lampreys in mustard sauce
Assorted meats. Fresh vegetables
Cream of mushroom soup
Skewered sturgeon. Roast beef. Orange salad.
Coffee, tea, fruit



King Baudouin and Leonid Brezhnev

Reception for the king of Belgium

June 23 1975

Image: Chernov/ RIA Novosti

Caviar. Rasstegai pasties
Fish assortment
Partridge platter with fruits and lingonberries
Salad
Cream of porcini mushroom soup
Trout with champignon mushrooms. Turkey breast with baked apples
Coffee, tea, fruit



Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev

Dinner for the president of the United States of America

June 23 1973

Caviar. Butter
Coulibiac with mushrooms
Seafood assortment: crab, oysters, balyk (salted and dried meat from the back of the sturgeon), Atlantic salmon, salmon, prawns
Woodland game birds (grouse, partridge, pheasant, grouse, quail)
Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. Lightly pickled cucumbers
Borscht with pampushka (garlic-topped bread roll). Sturgeon solyanka soup
Starry sturgeon with champignon mushrooms
Russian-style meat and potato stew cooked and served in pots
Strawberry mousse
Coffee, tea, fruit, biscuits



Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Dinner for the president of the United States of America

May 30 1988

Caviar. Rasstegai pastries
Assorted fish
Lemon-stuffed turkey fillet with fruits
Fish soup a la suzdal
Asparagus cream pike-perch baked with crabmeat. Loin of veal stewed with vegetables
Fruit cream parfait with nuts
Tea, coffee, fruit, pastries, cakes

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