Monday, April 02, 2007


I made it to the first hour of English Conversation Club on Sunday evening, where we discussed one of my favorite subjects. Food. The question was, what food(s) would you miss from home if you went to another country?

I made a small list, which I shared with our group:

1) Water. Free drinking water, automatically provided to you at any restaurant. That you want to drink water versus some other beverage and that the water will not be carbonated - both facts are considered normal. I also miss being able to drink water safely out of the tap. Expansion: American hygiene makes a lot less sense when you have to pay for water. Also when the bathtub is more often than not heaped with drying laundry. I tend to alternate between hair-washing days and self-washing days. There's a separation, and it's flexible, depending on the status of drip-drying clothes.

2) Spices. Man, I miss spices. I like flavors. When I sprinkle black pepper on my noodles, like I did last week, it seems incredibly exotic. I forgot what it tasted like. For lunch today, I bought lettuce (just lettuce, because accompanying veggies are still a little pricey) and crumpled it into a bowl. I squished lemon juice on top, and added some salt. It was crazy.

3) Food Without Additional Dairy Products. I miss salad without mayonnaise, as I told you in an earlier post. Here, that's seen as a little strange. I do not feel any compulsion to add sour cream to my soup, but that's also obligatory. I'm sure there are other examples, but they fail me.

4) California produce. I was incredibly spoiled by a year-round supply of fresh, affordable, locally grown fruits and vegetables within walking distance of my apartment. Those days are gone.

5) Where's the Beef? I'm not a vegetarian, though during my time in CA, I started eating less meat and more veggies. But I'm still a fan of the occasional steak dinner, and that's something you can't replicate here. Although shashlik is good.

6) Novelty Items. On this list would be such things as Waffle House hash browns, chicken dumplings, hot wings, pumpkin pie, fried chicken, biscuits (which I actually made here once)and other delicacies that I miss being able to eat periodically. Though considering the fat/dairy ratio, I think a chain of Southern food restaurants would do well in Russia.

To be fair, I was then asked to catalog what foods I would miss from Russia. At the top of the list is shashlik (think BBQ/shish-ke-bab as the closest analogy). Followed by blini (Russian pancakes - thinner than ours) I like mine without butter (madness), but with jam and, alas, I now also enjoy sour cream and condensed milk, as well as honey. And kasha (the buckwheat kind, which many Americans dislike, but I love, possibly because I grew up with it). I could say I'll miss borscht but that would be a lie because Mom makes the best in town. Other people noted that they'd miss Russian black bread, Russian dairy products and Russian tea.

At the market in St. Petersburg we found lots of spices, even though no one ever cooks with them.


Blogger Heather and Iona said...

First thing I thought when I saw that pic... Oooooh do they carry Saffron. That is pretty cool. I really enjoy seeing your pictures of Russia. I know you have no idea who I am but I found you by chance while bored viewing random blogs. Anyhow a friend of mine was a missionary in the Ukraine and I loved seeing her pics too. I love the culture over there!

6:28 AM  

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