CGTN reporter explores Russian culture and cuisine
Updated 14:36, 07-Jun-2019
By Su Yuting
This year's 70th anniversary of China-Russia diplomatic relations coincides with the 220th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Pushkin, an author recognized as the father of Russian literature. Russian is the most widely spoken Slavic language, and the United Nations observes June 6 as Russian Language Day, underlining the importance of Russian culture. 
Chinese and Russian people from literary circles gathered together to attend a ceremonial event held in a famous Russian restaurant in Beijing's Sanlitun community, called Pushkin Literature, to commemorate the birth of famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
Sanlitun, and its surrounding area, is one of the best known and most popular nightlife spots in Beijing, and offers everything you need with a huge choice of bars and clubs. You could never imagine there is such a place to have a taste of Russia's rich and profound culture along with their food. 
Inside Pushkin Literature Restaurant. /CGTN Photo

Inside Pushkin Literature Restaurant. /CGTN Photo

"China is an open country, we love freedom and peace, we have found lots of resonance from the poems of Pushkin and share similar feelings about him," said Pushkin enthusiast Han Zhiqin.
Xiao Xiao is the art director of the Pushkin Literature Restaurant. He said there is a bookshelf with a variety of works written by famous Russian writers that guests can rent and take away for free. "We want to be the bridge connecting Chinese and Russian cultures. We want to use the poems, novels, paintings and music and dances as ways to build this bridge," said Xiao. 
When VIPs come to the restaurant, they are treated with “bread and salt,” which is a traditional way to welcome guests in Russian culture. This particular Russian custom is often practiced during official events and is offered to admired guests as a sign of their hospitality. It has been embedded in Russian culture since the 15th century with locals believing if people shared “bread and salt” with each other they would become close friends.
Russian singer Olesya Volyk performs at the Pushkin Literature Restaurant. /CGTN Photo

Russian singer Olesya Volyk performs at the Pushkin Literature Restaurant. /CGTN Photo

Olesya Volyk has been working in China for four years as a singer. She said singing boosts people-to-people exchanges between Russians and Chinese. She said she is very impressed by Chinese people's love for Russian culture and traditional Russian cuisine, and the restaurant's decorations and furniture make her feel like she's back home in St. Petersburg.
Pushkin's famous poem "If by Life You Were Deceived" is written on the first page of the menu. It's a poem to encourage people to bravely overcome difficulties and be optimistic about the bright future.
When talking about President Xi Jinping's trip to Russia, everyone is optimistic about the development of closer ties, and together proposing a toast to their long-standing friendship.