Traditional Russian Appetizer (Zakuski)

Zakuski (закуски), the plural form of the Russian word for "appetizers" (zakuska (закуска) is singular), loosely translates as "little bites" and they are meant to soften the effects of the iced vodka or other strong potables they are served with. A zakuski spread is presented buffet-style on a table known as a zakusochnyi stol and is indispensable before a formal meal or on holidays.

The most common zakuski spreads might feature a few simple items, such as herring, cheese, and bread, or more elaborate dishes that number 20 or more.

Some Russians consider soup as part of the zakuski spread, especially now that slow cookers are popular worldwide and can keep the soup hot on the serving line.