Military Review

300 years of army cuisine. Reforms. From Russian-Japanese to the First World War

This period, roughly from 1890 to 1910, can be called the time of great change. It is possible that in some time period there were more changes in the Russian army kitchen, but it is difficult to call such a gap with confidence.

300 years of army cuisine. Reforms. From Russian-Japanese to the First World War

Of course, the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war played a huge role. After that, even in the hardened Russian ministries with a screech, but the changes began. And these changes turned out so much ... However, judge for yourself.

Canned food

Yes, the army food in the form of canned meat has become a part of the Russian soldier’s life precisely in the Russian-Japanese war.

But, the most interesting in this stories that canned food was not domestic! Russian canned food produced by the Azibera factory, which was discussed in previous articles, simply did not go to war.

Of course, certain reserves in the fortress were made before the war. But as they were made, they also ended when the fortress was under siege according to all the rules. Normal realities of war.

Here is another nuance. The capacity of the railways of the time. To deliver something to Port Arthur, it was necessary (see map) to drag the car through Transsib to Harbin, and there either to Port Arthur and Dalny (until the Japanese captured the branch) or to Vladivostok and then by sea.

Of course, the carrying capacity of the railways of that time was small. And there were always more important goods than the stew. Cartridges, shells, rifles, etc.

So the canned goods that were delivered by sea to Port Arthur were ... American!

Yes, it turned out to be more profitable and faster to purchase batches of canned food in the USA and by sea, under neutral flags, to deliver to Port Arthur. Of course, despite the delivery by sea, there was still not enough canned food, and history has preserved evidence that soldiers received a pound jar of canned meat for three.

But the bank for three is still much better than nothing.

With regard to canned food, it was in those years that the so-called “time exposure” was introduced. Aziber, as a manufacturer, who needs: a) to sell and b) quickly, resisted as best he could, but the Russian military department insisted that all canned food be kept in warehouses for two weeks before shipment.

During this time, all banks with unsatisfactory sterilization usually swell and explode. So the rejection problem was solved this way. And, I must say, the soldier, as the final consumer, it was on hand.

And further. It was the military that insisted on a whole series of simply draconian measures for the manufacturer. This, of course, was arbitrariness, which could only happen in a totalitarian empire (no joke, if that), but from 1901, the factories supplying canned food to Arsia introduced measures such as “sprinkling the floor with fresh wooden chips in the morning and evening”, “washing hands with tar or coniferous soap ”,“ washing floors after finishing works with alkaline soap ”. Alkaline soap, as I understand it, is an analogue of the modern economic, with a high alkali content.

Floors with soap ... In 1901 year ... Frost on the skin straight.


Strange as it may seem, tea conquered the Russian army even faster than the nobility and merchants. The attentive quartermasters quickly realized that it was very convenient to transport tea, that it was light when moving, that in preparation.

Let me remind you that the main drink of the Russian soldier before the appearance of tea was kvass. But cooking kvass is a rather long time question, and boil a kettle / samovar / kettle of water, pour tea leaves there - that's all!

Before anything, the Russian army did not capitulate as quickly as before tea. The tea blitzkrieg ended literally within a few years.

In 1905, after the Russo-Japanese War, tea allowance was established by order No. 769 for the army. In the image and likeness of the British and Japanese armies.

The tea allowance included money sold to buy tea and sugar. Per day for the soldier / sailor, the norm was set in 2 grams of tea and 25 grams of sugar.

Compared with the English soldiers did not spoil. In England, where tea was cultivated, a soldier received 2,5 kg of tea a year, and an English sailor fleet more than 3. The satisfaction of the Russian soldier consisted of 735 grams of tea per year, but when compared with the ordinary life of a Russian person, it was more than luxurious.

But such a thing as sugar, the vast majority of Russians from the provinces only in the army and could try.

Although honey has not been canceled. Tea with honey is no worse than tea with sugar, but under army conditions, of course, it is easier to store sugar and produce it faster.

There were also funny moments. The sugar portion was given out only in kind and directly to the hands of the soldiers, daily or every other day, depending on the promptness of the commissaries. It was possible to get money for tea (maybe the term “give a tip,” that is, it was a small amount) that went from there, but not sugar. Only in hand.

At the same time, soldiers who had fallen into the guardhouse under strict or intensified arrest, who had fallen under the full program, were deprived of tea and sugar. The “lip” really was not sugar. But those who got into the guardhouse as usual, retained the right to tea with sugar.

Tea, as a component of allowances, was issued before 1905 of the year. But there were nuances. Tea was a component of dry rations, that is, it was issued when it was clear that the soldiers would not receive hot boiler feed.

A rather peculiar recognition of the value of tea, isn't it? No hot soup with meat and porridge - well, at least a hot tea. Also an option, as they say.

In general, at the beginning of the 20 century, tea became an integral part of army cuisine.

A little run ahead. Since 1907, the cost of tea content (cups) and ... coal for samovars have been included in the amount of tea allowance. Circles and samovars were officially soldier items from 1907 onwards.

These costs were 5 kopecks per person per year. Thus, an infantry company numbering in 200 people received in the year 10 rubles. With this money it was supposed to buy aluminum or tin mugs and a sack (about 50 kg) of coal for the samovar.

Food Alignment

By the time being described, there was one more aspect that I wanted to talk about. The food allowance of the Russian army for 1906 was made up of three seemingly different (in fact, no) parts:

1. Food allowance.
2. Welding allowance.
3. Tea content (from 1905).

The food allowance is the products with which the army quartermasters were supposed to supply the rank and file according to the established norms in kind. Prices for food allowances were set once for a period of one to three years. In fact, these were not finished products, but raw materials that could be stored for a long time, easily transported, and so on.

The food allowance included baked bread and flour, crackers, salt, groats and vodka.

The issue rates did not actually change from the 1874 of the year, and, in fact, there was no need to change them.

The welding allowance is a slightly different type of supply, because welding was available only in monetary terms. These amounts were issued to the commanders of divisions, companies and squadrons for daily hot meals of the lower ranks.

The reforming subject was that before 1906, the money was given out right away for a year, and after 1906, they began to be issued quarterly, more precisely, in accordance with the seasons.

The negative point was that the responsibility for feeding the soldiers was fully and entirely assigned to the commanders. If the commander really was “a servant to the king, father to the soldiers,” no problems arose. If not, there was a huge field for theft.

The idea was quite good: to entrust the commanders with seasonal and territorial manipulation of the assortment and prices, with the aim of improving the nutrition of the soldiers and introducing more high-quality and cheap vegetables into the soldiers ’diet according to the season.

In the presence of vegetables in the diet, the Russian soldier lagged behind the French ally almost five times. However, the entrusting of officers to the organization of food for the soldiers became a huge negative factor, which was in fact uncontrollable.

Practically, the power of the soldiers was again entrusted to the officers, or, as they were called, to the fathers-commanders, that is, they were made dependent on subjective factors that could not be taken into account or controlled.

Honestly, in my humble opinion, they were stupid in the military department from the heart. The gentlemen generals and admirals did not want to understand that the exit, bright and joyful, was near. In the form of a regimental or brigade dining room, where you can feed a soldier at a time.

Strangely enough, but at the beginning of the 20 century in the Russian military department it was believed that organizing food for soldiers in such a way, at the regimental level, is troublesome and unprofitable.

Of course, it was obviously easier to give out “welding” with money, and then let the company officers and platoon platicians have a headache how to turn money into food for their soldiers.

It seems to be a reform, but in reality - not at all. It is not up to the officer to run around the markets, buying food for the soldiers. And it’s not a matter of a soldier to sit and wait until everything grows together. There was a way out, but alas, the tsarist generals stubbornly did not want to at least knock on him.

And it would be worth it, since the potential was there. You just had to implement it. It cannot be said that in terms of nutrition, we trailed behind the “civilized Europe”.

The bread rate allowed for a soldier in the Russian army was the highest in the world. It was believed that in Russia the soldier was supposed to eat baked bread on the day of 1 028, and in Germany and in France the local soldier received only 750.

At the same time, the Russian soldier ate black, natural rye bread, rich in vitamins and more nourishing, while the European soldier received only wheat white bread, which the Russians considered too “flimsy” or “masterly”.

Along with bread, per Russian soldier accounted for about 50 kg of cereals per year. Buckwheat, spelled, barley. Porridge, as we have said, is not steamed vegetables in the Euro-ration.

Again about welding. This is a historical thing.

Welding is holy, and here's why. If compulsory food in the form of bread and cereals could be replaced, depending on the circumstances, with flour, bread crumbs, or (for example) corn or grain, then welding could include things that diversified the soldier’s table. Meat, lard, butter, vegetables, peppers, and especially wheat flour for a subleave of soups with the aim of thickening them.

Even the strongest German canned meat broth was considered by the Russian soldier to be “vodicka”, since it was almost transparent. What to say about the European soups of the time? In general, on the topic of food in foreign armies, it is better to read with Marshal of the Soviet Union, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky. In the book "Soldiers of Russia", which is present on the Internet.

The system of the Russian welding, for the command of any part was troublesome, but profitable. Yes that there, the most profitable! After all, it was possible to manipulate as you please, to buy meat of the lowest quality, the third, so to speak, variety. And the vegetables could be taken stale and dried. And what a soldier - he will eat everything!

But the quantitative standards of welding in the Russian army were higher than in the European. Daily delivery of meat for a Russian soldier was established at the beginning of the 20 century in 307 g, while the French had 300, and the Germans 180 g meat and 26 g fat, the Austrians 190 g meat and 10 g pork fat.

However, in all foreign armies, the amount of food allowances was commensurate not only with local prices, but also with the conditions of cooking and depended on the actual movement of troops, when food was sharply increased.

In the Russian army, the monetary allowance for welding was determined once and for all for a year. While everything was calm, no one was worried. But after the defeat in the Russian-Japanese war, inflation began and the price fluctuations that accompanied it. They practically destroyed the high standards of welding in the Russian army, turning everything into fiction.

And, naturally, quite normal for Russia is the embezzlement. Anyone who could snatch from the soldiers ration, certainly did it.

In general, the reform of 1905-1906's turned out to be not such a reform. The system seemed to be improved from the bottom of its heart, riding for the soldier, but in fact, zero again came out. On the one hand, the war in faraway Manchuria showed that the Achilles' heel of the Russian army is supply and catering, on the other - all with rare exceptions remained in their places.

And one more thing that I would like to voice. Moving troops.

It is clear that in those years the troops moved along the roads and paths. And they preferred to stop in settlements, and not among the vast expanses.

And here the traditional for Russia “allowance from the inhabitants” came into effect during the movement of troops. Regulated, but nonetheless.

Only the lower ranks could enjoy the satisfaction of ordinary people, singly or by small non-staff teams following the stage. The townsfolk, that is, the owners of the hut, were obliged to feed the military twice during the night — once in the evening upon arrival for the night and the second time in the morning when they spoke.

When detained on the so-called day time, the number of obligatory feedings increased to four: one on arrival for the night, two during the daylight hours and one in the morning when they came out for the next day from the settlement.

The payment of such a natural allowance for the lower ranks was to be borne by the treasury, paying the appropriate receipts for government norms at the rate of 20-25 kopecks per day.

Wait for the officers was a separate matter, and, accordingly, was also paid separately.

In general, it can be said that the lessons that the Russian-Japanese war inflicted on the Russian army are not so much in vain. But, in the words of a classic, "they wanted, as it was better, it turned out as usual."

It seems that the reform pursued only the goals of improving nutrition, but in fact all the same archaic decisions. But do not discount such a breakthrough as canned food in the soldiers ration and field kitchens, the first step from the soldiers' boilers to the side of the modern food system.

1905-1906 reforms can be rated "satisfactory." By the way, the same assessment was confirmed by the First World War, which stood on the threshold.

Pokhlebkin V. Cuisine of the century.
Malinovsky R. Soldiers of Russia.

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  1. Comrade
    Comrade 19 August 2018 06: 37
    Thanks to the author! A wonderful article, learned a lot of new and unexpected at the same time.
  2. Narak-zempo
    Narak-zempo 19 August 2018 07: 49
    The capacity of the railways of that time

    Not "railways", but specifically the Trans-Siberian - a single-track with a ferry crossing through Lake Baikal, passing 3 trains a day.
  3. Amurets
    Amurets 19 August 2018 07: 49
    The negative point was that the responsibility for feeding the soldiers was fully and entirely assigned to the commanders. If the commander really was “a servant to the king, father to the soldiers,” no problems arose. If not, there was a huge field for theft.

    Thanks, interesting. This moment reminded me of the audit carried out by Lieutenant Boreyko in the affairs of staff captain Chizh.
    1. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 19 August 2018 10: 29
      Quote: Amurets
      ..... The author thanks, interesting.
      I am joining. Interesting about canned food and a two-week period. Here, it turns out, the quality gradually increased.
      1. Vladimir 5
        Vladimir 5 19 August 2018 19: 09
        Regarding the success of tea, previously in RIA, non-combat losses (based on dysyntheria and other gastrointestinal diseases) exceeded combat losses. Tea became that disinfecting "magic wand" that sharply reduced losses from diseases, therefore it fell on and was accepted by everyone with a bang, especially the medical service .. Regarding embezzlement, the regimental commander was the main "financier and inspector" regiment, and he personally controlled all the regimental means. Only after becoming a colonel did the officer's family cease to be in need and had prosperity, others in the regiment, as a rule, especially in the guards, were forced to supplement with personal funds received from family income. Non-guards officers lived very modestly, they ate in the dining room of the officers' meeting, where they brought certain amounts ...
        1. Reptiloid
          Reptiloid 19 August 2018 22: 10
          Quote: Vladimir 5
          Regarding the success of tea, earlier in the RIA non-combat losses (based on dysyntheria and other gastrointestinal diseases) exceeded combat losses. Tea became that disinfecting "magic wand" that sharply reduced the losses from diseases, therefore it fell on and was accepted by everyone with a bang, especially the medical service .. ...
          I was thinking about this topic --- what kind of water did you drink, from which reservoirs? How was this doing ---- drink what you want? From a well, from a river? What were the directions, I wonder? And tea ---- of course, boiled water. Although the norm of 2g is it seems to be very small?
          In one film about the old days, a character says to another: "" Don't drink tea, tea is expensive. I've been collecting herbs, dried them --- and I'm brewing them. "" I wonder how often Russian people drank herbal teas at that time?
          1. Reptiloid
            Reptiloid 20 August 2018 10: 29
            Even before our era, in Egypt and Sumer, low-alcohol drinks performed an antimicrobial function. Mostly beer and wine. Beer then had a different taste and was stronger (up to 13 °). The ancient Greeks added a small amount of wine to the water --- 1/3 or 1/4. + European wines. But what about in Russia? Maybe kvass was slightly alcoholic ??? I also read in one book that they ate a lot of sour cabbage in Russia traditionally. Perhaps lactic acid is also against microbes? In general, to recall botany, there are herbs in Russia against parasites, microbes --- wormwood, tansy. Over tansy, even insects do not fly! And she can grow with human growth. But these herbs --- WITH CAUTION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. vladcub
      vladcub 19 August 2018 14: 34
      Nikolay, you remember well the book "Port Arthur". I also read this book, but I already forgot this moment
      1. Amurets
        Amurets 19 August 2018 15: 43
        Quote: vladcub
        I also read this book, but already forgot this moment

        The very beginning of the book, chapter war
        1. vladcub
          vladcub 19 August 2018 18: 45
          I will have to update it in my memory, but I honestly say: there are a lot of interesting things to read next. + Other things
    KVU-NSVD 19 August 2018 08: 56
    I wonder how it was with tobacco then? In the cycle did not meet a word. Although, of course, this has an indirect relationship to the kitchen, it probably also passed through the "nachprodov". I remember when I started as a platoon officer, they were given such a g (03 - 05) that most people preferred to smoke their own money from home, and instead of smoking my castle received sugar (although there was still NZ in the cars from the issued cigarettes)
    1. nathanael
      nathanael 19 August 2018 16: 16
      Hmm ... Actually, when passing the term in SA GSVG, the smokers were given cigarettes. In my opinion, 10 packs a month .. Cigarettes are so-so I did not smoke, but the smokers said that compared to German, the first grade ..
      1. Amurets
        Amurets 20 August 2018 00: 33
        Quote: Nathanael
        Cigarettes so-so

        EMNIP, In the Far East Military District 1969-1971, the privateer had "Hunting", "Pamir", in general, the price was 6-10. kopecks for a pack.
        I didn’t smoke then either, we served at a point and I remember that once a week the commander ate a regiment for groceries and collected money for a good smoke.
  5. Blacksmith 55
    Blacksmith 55 19 August 2018 10: 52
    The author is definitely a plus. I learned a lot.
  6. Non-fighter
    Non-fighter 19 August 2018 13: 16
    And here is an alternative
    Please note that the author indicates links to sources.
    In general, I recommend this site, there is a lot of interesting information.
    1. vladcub
      vladcub 19 August 2018 14: 38
      I'll try to peek, but the links go badly for me
  7. bandabas
    bandabas 19 August 2018 15: 36
    Cabbage soup and porridge is our food. Kashi is the perfect food. The same barley. You just need to cook properly, and you get yummy. The only thing that still does not like is semolina. Memories from childhood - lumps. Although, without lumps, also a tasty thing. It all depends on the cooking and the cook.
    1. vladcub
      vladcub 19 August 2018 18: 54
      It all depends on the skill of the cook and is outdated. Once the company commander "shiza struck" 5 km with full gear. The main thing is that we are already on our last legs, and he is a parasite at least henna. When they returned, they handed over the barley and the cooks almost gulped
    2. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 20 August 2018 10: 09
      Quote: bandabas
      semolina. Memories from childhood - lumps.

      But I loved THEM since childhood! Mom used to say "" lumps --- at careless housewives "". And I asked my mom to porridge with lumps! But already ~ 20 years, as none of the relatives cooks it, and they do not buy cereals. And sometimes I eat in the canteen, if I see.
  8. garri-lin
    garri-lin 21 August 2018 16: 46
    When cooking, a lot depends on the chef. In my life I have twice encountered master chefs who managed to cook delicious and satisfying dishes from "sawdust" and other "waste". Honor and praise to such masters, decades have passed, but I remember and am still grateful.