Russian food horrors and delights

I told you that the village shop was pretty, well, frightening.  On a good day, you can get maybe a shrivelled, blackened eggplant or a stunted onion and an apple with a couple of holes in it.  I’ll never forget my first impression of the place, when I saw an unwrapped chicken leg languishing at the bottom of the freezer container.

Well, today I saw something really interesting at a little grocery store in Kurskaya train station after I got back from baby lessons (I teach a two year old girl who lives a way to the east of the city).  Hey, I thought, why does that can have a picture of a horse on it…. oh, God, no… horse lard. Made from a horse. Yeah.

But now that you’ve been able to share in my early afternoon nausea, I’ll tell you some good things about shopping here and about why grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do.  My life has gotten so much better since moving to the city, more friends, more things to do, a beautiful neighborhood and good roommates (one of whom taught me how to make borscht this Sunday!)  Having a huge grocery store, Perekryostok, across the street has been one of the biggest improvements.  And food here, even in the “world’s most expensive city,” is actually cheaper, that is if you like the food I like.  To give you an idea, for $17 I bought: an eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, apples, a package of lavash flatbread, barilla spaghetti (!), soba noodles, a bunch of yogurt, a thing of parmesan cheese, a dozen eggs, and a bucket of pickles.  I’m going to go try those pickles.

Anyway, one more thing.  There’s this homemade thing called zapikanka which is the best thing ever.  I’ve had it three times, and it is always great.  However, what is it?  The first time someone made it for me, it had eggs and mushrooms.  Then I had it once with apples, and again with golden raisins.  How can I learn to make this elusive magical mystery food if it keeps changing on me?

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