It is also tasted, of course, in the form of Mexican, Chinese and Italian cuisine, but ABC7's Hungry Hound says Russian salami -- from suburban Mundelein -- has also become a major player on the local food scene.
If you're looking for Russian food in the region, it's probably best to look northwest near Mundelein and Buffalo Grove. That's where an immigrant sausage maker has established a massive production facility conveniently located just a few miles from his company-owned deli.
Twelve years ago, it might have been a stretch to think that Russian salami and sausage would be a hit with consumers. But the Alef Sausage Companyin Mundelein has been cranking out about 250,000 lbs. pounds of it each month, selling a lot of it through its deli.
"We have four kinds of bologna. Also,it takes about six or seven hours to make it," said Alef Sausage Owner Alec Mikhaylov.
The primary lines include bologna, cooked salami, which is smoked for about three hours, and dried salami, which ages for at least a month and is also smoked along the way.
"You need to use real good meat and spices. We don't use anything else in our production. We don't have some like binder or something like that to make from a pound of meat like three pounds of sausage. We don't do that," Mikhaylov said.
The differences are subtle. There's an "Old Kiev" which contains 80 percent pork, 20 percent fat; it's in the "dry" category. His "Evreyskaya" is known as a Jewish salami, since it's 100 percent beef.
There are plenty of other Russian ingredients and homemade dishes offered in the deli, at least enough to assemble a small platter of ethnic hors d'oeuvres.
"We are using real meat and real spices, nothing else in our product," he said.
You can find those salamis, along with dozens of other homemade Russian salads and snacks, as well as imported goods from Europe, at the company's deli in Mundelein.
Alef Sausage & Deli
354 Townline Rd., Mundelein