Why Russia Loves Mayo

Fact: Russians consume more mayonnaise per capita than any other country in the world. While ketchup and mustard are adored in many parts of the world, the citizens of Russia can't stop craving mayo. But why, exactly, is this creamy condiment made with eggs and oil so coveted and omnipresent?

One major reason why mayonnaise is so valuable in Russian cuisine is that it's a key ingredient in numerous traditional dishes. For example, Olivier salad, which is a longstanding staple at Russian New Year's Eve celebrations, is a medley of boiled potatoes, carrots, pickles, peas, and ham, all of which are mixed together with mayonnaise. Another popular meal is shuba, a layered salad that calls for herring, potatoes, beets, onions, and of course, a generous dollop of mayo.

Mayonnaise is also regularly served with bread, fried potatoes, grilled and cured meats, and even sushi. Many Russians even incorporate mayo into cakes, biscuits, sauces, dressings, and soups for a velvety texture. At the end of the day, mayo is a versatile ingredient and a relatively inexpensive and efficient way to incorporate flavor and nutrients into one's diet.

Mayonnaise is a customary, prized food in Russia

For many Russians, mayonnaise is a beloved part of the motherland's culinary heritage. In a country where fresh produce can be hard to come by, mayonnaise provides a way to make even the most basic foods taste delicious. Additionally, mayonnaise boasts a long shelf life (about two months), which makes it a practical choice for a country with a harsh climate.

The world's largest nation's infatuation with mayonnaise is nothing new, as the condiment has a rich Russian history. It was first introduced to the country in the mid-19th century, and quickly became a favorite among the upper classes. Over time, mayonnaise became more widely available and affordable, and it eventually became a staple in Russian households. Today, mayonnaise is so ingrained in Russian culture that it's often used as a symbol of national identity.

Whether you love or hate mayo, there's no denying that the iconic, tangy spread has a special place in the hearts — and bellies — of many Russians.