Thursday, October 08, 2015

Food in Russia

In Communist days, "food in Russia" could often be considered what mathematicians call an empty set, since even for tourists it was sometimes hard to get enough to eat. In the restaurants you didn't order what you wanted from the menu, you asked what was available, and usually it was just one item.
Fortunately, those days are long gone. Now virtually every kind of food is available, and often at reasonable prices at least for foreigners. Above in the shopping emporium GUM on Red Square, where I recently enjoyed a meal in the top floor eatery called Stolobaya (or cafeteria.) I had a large citrus cocktail, a plate of rice and chicken stew, bread and the Russian drink called "kvass" made from fermented bread for a mere 345 rubles, just over $5. I was pleased when the cashier spoke to me in Russian, and I suspect it was because I ordered kvass, which foreigners seldom drink. The downside to this very popular restaurant is that it is quite noisy.
 If you prefer to gather the makings of a picnic, you can easily do so in the extensive food halls on the ground floor of GUM. A cursory examination showed that they may rival those in Harrod's in London or KaDeWe in Berlin. A decent food court in central Moscow is the one at the underground shopping centre Okhotny Ryad nearby. Be careful with prices here, since the price advertised for dishes is often just for 100 grams, which is not very much. The McDonald's on Tverskaya is quite upscale and attracts a lot of young professionals.
One very interesting culinary experience on this trip was lunch at a vehicle museum in the Moscow suburbs. It was served by young people dressed as Soviet soldiers (the museum has a lot of old tanks and cars from that period,) and was typical Army chow--kasha mixed with some kind of meat, salo on black bread (salo is pork fat) and beer or kvass. It made you glad you didn't have to serve in the Red Army.
Keep reading for more about Russian food and restaurants in coming days.


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