The bad old days. It was bread and cheese all the time. It was hard to find anything else. I would go into the small stores, get my bread and cheese, maybe some sunflower seeds, gamble on something new if it had intriguing packaging, and bring my meager lot to the stern babuschka at the counter. Cash registers weren’t always to be found, and in their place was an abacus. An abacus! The babuschka would aggressively slide the caroms to and fro, and then look at me impatiently, waiting for money. I would feebly ask, “Skolko?” (How much) and I’d watch as her face tightened and she would gesture with her open palm to the abacus between us with an exasperated look that said, “It’s right in front you, Jackass! Can’t you read?!”
I heard rumors of Georgian restaurants, but I could never find one. If I found a guy selling plov (rice pilaf) on the street, I ate enough for two meals. Pelmeni (dumplings) restaurants were also cause for celebration.
Now it’s all Uzbek/sushi restaurants and everything under the sun if you have the money. The big American fast food chains are here, but Putin is on a western food jihad, banning imports as a retaliation for sanctions and destroying perfectly good food for show. Even the most fanatical of Russia supporters can’t defend it.
I don’t mind the ban. I don’t even notice the ban, which seems selective, as western food can be found without much trying. I can eat at a stolovaya or bistro, both cafeteria-style food that is much better than it sounds, all day, every day. Great selection, reasonably priced, and very Russian. Big fan.
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