My Russianness

October 31, 2010 § 3 Comments

I should really be studying right now…  But, last night something kind of amazing happened, so I feel like it deserves a few moments of my time to document it in history. Ok, so maybe it’s wasn’t like anything super amazing – at least not what you think. No, I didn’t fall madly in love with anyone and/or spontaneously awake with all of my SQL/SAS problems solved. But, I did decide that it was time for a little break. And, a few of my classmates and I put studying aside for a while and met up for a Russian dinner/movie night, instead.

I know I mentioned the Russian girls before, way back in the beginning – during my more pissy days. I do admit that there are still times when I struggle a bit with keeping the right russian/english ratio balance around here – but all in all I’ve managed to find good friends in them, so in reality it’s a kind of blessing.

It’s as if I’ve traveled to an entirely new place, only to learn to be my old self – the original, Russian self.

Every day of my interactions with them, I learn new slang words – they laugh at me for not knowing, ways in which I am indeed so russian, and of course a myriad of ways I’m not.

But as far as cultural journeys go, I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that this lesson is unavoidable and without coming to terms with my Russian past, I indeed can not go forward.

 

 

And so, we made pel’meni. Not from scratch of course, as that would take a long time. But it was amazing to see all the different ways in which we are alike – the foundation of our so-called sisterhood is based on the simplest of things…

ingredients for salad, so staple…  love of sour cream, universal…     our humor, so much the same.

We’ve already planned a date in the future to make Borstch – finally I’ll get an authentic recipe!

 

But, last night we kept it simple – we ate, we drank French wine and giggled over random things.

 

It was kinda funny though, I’ve never been to a dinner party where the topic of conversation ever ventured into the world of kasha making… or discussion of favorite stockings and boots. I have really found my people, haven’t I. Just add a future scavenge for orange eggs in the country side and life will be complete.

On the other hand though, there were of course those pesky differences. Those moments when I stayed quiet for lack of having the right words (most certainly how they are when we speak English) or when I’m being explained something because I’m not in the know… still of course, nothing but a foreigner.

But, who cares – foreigner or not, we see the world in similar colors and that comes with such a better view. I was reminded last night of all that it is to be Russian…   it is to be resourceful (Foil can do magic when you need it to), it is to be frugal (‘One Yogi tea bag can surly make three cups of tea’  – and you better believe we had CUPS and CUPS of tea) and it is to use laughter to diffuse any hardship that life can bring (There was much laughter). Indeed then I am Russian.

But of course, the best part of the night, the one that brought my entire life full circle it seems, is when we watched Eat, Pray, Love…. dubbed in Russian, NO LESS.  From the hilarity of cultural translations, to the idea that Julia Roberts was somehow Russian… and even more amazingly, that her story… is really my story… I found myself in the crossroads of my entire life – my past, my present and most certainly my future – all of a sudden – meeting in one place. In that moment, I was challenged to own my Russianness , reminded of my own journey that brought me here, and inspired to complete hers…   Of course, from experience as well as what the movie would suggest, it is true that running from things in this fashion is not always as productive as one would hope … and often leads life to come full circle, but by the time I get all the way back to the beginning – it will indeed be a fresh start. And in the meantime, I’m full-circle, back to the beginning, of being Russian and starting that journey, all over again.

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Lessons From Abroad: U.S. Organics

October 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

When I lived in the US, especially in the last year or two, I became obsessed with buying organic and in general studying food like it was going out of style. While to a degree this is probably not a bad thing, I’ll admit I went a little overboard and spent WAY too much time figuring out all the nutrition stuff and focusing on healthy living…

So, imagine my surprise, when this morning I reached for a 3 day old carrot and felt something terrifyingly moldy and flaccid in my hand. Aah!

I have never seen anything like it before – certainly not after 3 days, but not even after a month!

Granted, in the US I wasn’t a big fan of carrots, but I did attempt to buy them once in a while to see if maybe things had changed… but of course, always organic. I’d buy a bag of ’em, have one and leave the rest to decompose at the bottom of my fridge – eying it every few weeks wondering if… ‘it’s time’. There was always a strange window where for the first few weeks they were  just – carrots that I didn’t care to have, and for the next few – carrots I didn’t want to deal with – and for the next few after that – carrots I was afraid to touch…

But, even then – it took a least a few weeks for them to go mutant and they NEVER looked like the carrot from this morning.

And, I know what you’re thinking – ‘you kept them in the fridge before‘ – but seriously, 3 days? I’m pretty sure this speaks to something bigger. Is it possible that even our US organic carrots are unfortunately modified.. at least on some leve  – for they NEVER taste this good and they ALWAYS keep way too well.

Try it, Please! For me.

Buy an organic carrot and leave it out for a few days … how long does it take for it to look like an orange, hollow, mushy mutant. Please report back if you do this, I am uber-curious!

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

So, I’ve been scouring the city of good food and well, scouring is probably the wrong word to use here, as it’s everywhere, i mean – literally around every corner. There isn’t a block you can walk by that doesn’t have a bakery, or a chocolate candy store – not to be confused with a chocolate shop (which as far as I can tell just serves, hot warm, sippable chocolate… yeah like cocoa, but OBVIOUSLY not! Anyway, I’ve made it a mission of mine to try everything I possibly can over the next year, but hopefully not all at once, as I really would love to not come back looking it… 🙂 Things that i haven’t tried yet, but will and everytime I pass them on the street, walking by seems to be significantly harder and harder to do, include: warm, smell them across the cobblestoned courtyard, soft – plain, cream, strawberry or chocolate filled waffles; chocolate candy, belgian traditional plum colored thingys (see them everywhere, what are they?!); australian ice cream, cream puffs, french fries (which apparently originated here), beer, beer and more beer and a million other things. But, I kept passing soup restaurants and the other day just couldn’t resist. I walked into the first one I saw, got out my dictionary, looked up two words and I was sold on a soup – didn’t even bothered figuring out what else they had, there’s always next time. I just got a cup of it and it came with some bread and not to be cheesy, but seriously,  it was utterly orgasmic. I just don’t know if I’ve ever had anything more tasty in my life – pumpkin-carrot curry soup with granny smith apples and the bread… the bread was like … cake, but better – I don’t even know what the place was called, but god help I will find it again! I love my new city.

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