EDITORIAL: Zagat on Russia


Zagat on Russia

The Zagat publication New York City Restaurants 2009 is the most authoritative guide to eating houses in one of the most diverse eating cities on the planet.  It scores cuisines on a scale of 0-30 points based on input from thousands of diners.

For the convenience of those interested in nothing but the best, the Zagat guide lists the top three restaurants in a variety of 37 cusines on pages 13-16.  It lists Turkish, Thai, Vietnamese, Kosher, Greek, Korean, Caribbean and Indian cuisines, along with more mainstream choices like French, Chinese and Italian, and lots of others.

Russian cusine is nowhere to be found on pages 13-16.  It’s as if it doesn’t exist.  And upon closer inspection of the encyclopedic guide, it doesn’t get much more vivid.

If you look in the index at the back of the book, you’ll find a puny total of three Russian restaurants named there. Three out of roughly 1,500 listings.  Ouch.

Not one of the three Russian eateries has a score for quality of cuisine higher than 19.   By contrast, not one of the top three restraurants in the Turkish, Thai, Vietnamese, Kosher, Greek, Korean, Caribbean or Indian categories on pages 13-16 has a score as low as 20.  The worst top-three restaurant in any one of those categories is, in other words, better than the best Russian restaurant.  Which is why, of course, Russia doesn’t make the summary of top cuisines.  Quite simply, nobody even wants to prepare it, much less eat it.

New York has more Israeli restaurants than it does Russian.  It has more Ethiopian, more Austrian, more Moroccan, more Belgian (yes, Belgian!) and more Dominican choices than Russian.  It has five times more Argentinian or Brazilian options on offer than Russian.   Five times more.

Australia — yes, Australia — has the same number of restaurant options as Russia (and no, Outback Steakhouse isn’t one of them  — and even if it were, where’s the Russian Borscht Bucket?).  Two of Oz’s three contenders have higher scores for cuisine than Russia’s top scorers.    Germany, hardly famous among Americans for its food, has nearly three times more restaurant representatives in the Zagat guide than Russia (so does Peru!), and three of the German contenders have higher scores for cuisine than the Russians while three others match Russia’s score.  

Much like the city of Moscow, none of the three Russian places are price-accessible; in other words, normal people wouldn’t visit them even if they were scrumptious.  According to Zagat, a dinner for one will cost at least $50 at any one of them.  Their reviews are scathing.  Two of the three are praised most prominently for their vodka.  The Russian Tea Room is a “tourist” trap that’s “as hard to kill as Rasputin.”  The Russian Samovar is “rowdy” like “1950’s Moscow.”  Firebird is characterized by “costumes” and “pomp and circumstance.”  The word delicious does not appear once in any of the three estimations.

The reason for this spectacular failure of Russian cusine even in New York City (good luck looking for it in Des Moines or Miami) is exactly the same one that explains Russian failure in economic and political life:  Russia won’t reform.  It stubbornly clings to a failed past that has stolen as much cuisine as it has invented and which has stolen the worst, and made it even worse still.  Russia simply cannot accept criticism, and therefore cannot change for the better. It goes on decade after decade stubbornly dishing up swill and blaming “russophobia” and “racism” for empty dining rooms and laughing critics.

And so it goes in Russia.


72 responses to “EDITORIAL: Zagat on Russia

  1. There’s no such thing as American food really. Anglos have ever been idiots on food and the result of this has just been amply covered in the editorial.

    “It lists Turkish, Thai, Vietnamese, Kosher, Greek, Korean, Caribbean and Indian cuisines, along with more mainstream choices like French, Chinese and Italian, and lots of others.”

    That’s OK for a Frankenstein nation of US raised on gm food. You may not believe me but I think the Russians in Moscow simply do not need Vietnamese or Caribbean food in their homeland.

    • Yes, Russians don’t need anything Vietnamese or Caribbean just as don’t need anybody non-white. We have heard this on this board from Eugene — Europe is already simply infested

      • So, how do you explain the popularity of sushi restaurants for the Russian elite that still has money to spare? Or the McDonald’s that are by far the busiest restaurants in Moscow?

  2. A pox on the first person that engages what’s got to be the stupidest trolls putting their illiterate droppings here day after day.

    They will go away when starved.

    It’s getting pathetic watching thread after thread ruined to the point that dialogue with anyone intelligent is futile because of the clutter.

    Please stop feeding these morons.

  3. Of course you’re right, Penny, but I find these trolls quite fun in some ways: they are a living demonstration of the moron level of what has to be fought.

    It never ceases to amaze me how a whole nation –bar a select few exceptions to prove the rule (whom I like to translate as they are proof that hope is not yet totally drowned) – cannot string a coherent thought together.

    Finding a way of fighting that is an intellectual conundrum. How can one get through to the mind of a mindless idiot? How does one deliver a knockout blow to a jellyfish?

    I therefore see some use in these trolls in that they exist as a test in honing incontrovertible and ever clearer arguments such as we see all the time in LR.

    This argument, however, falls down when one remembers how the philosophers of the Enlightenment, on whose concepts the USA was founded, tried to pinpoint ideas so basic and so innately human that they required no proof: “We hold these truths to be self-evident….”

    And – good grief! – the Russians are an exception to that too. We are talking to or about people who still dwell in the age prior to that of Reason.

  4. dave,
    First, thank you so very much for your translations… I tried several times and realized that just knowing two languages is not enough. The results are clumsy at best and pathetic at worse. The point often gets lost in translation.

    Anyway, Bulgakov defined homo sovieticus (so aptly represented here) decades ago. Sharikov can be a mascot of Unkneeling Russian.

    Eugene and rts should be required reading for Berkeley types who insist that if we only had a heart-to-heart talk we will all be friends! I say, practice Kumbaya with “I am Russian”!

  5. Feed ME! I’m a hungry moron and I can only subsist on ignorant hate! Please tell me how much you hate me! I voted for Obama, I think Russians aren’t stupid! I don’t think any people are bad people based on the place they were born or the government they were born under. I think that Saakashvili is an arrogant jack-ass, regardless if he started a war or not. I think people who fear criticism the most are people who’s ideas are weak. I have become addicted to your hate, your childish tantrums, and most of all to watch you become UNHINGED when someone doesn’t agree with you. AND, the more posts you post that other people’s opinions are getting to you, the more I want to do it. To watch you and your whole Neo-Con bull crap ideology go the way of the Soviet Union, is a pleasure. KEEP POSTING, and keep hating! Only through your hate for me can I really feel complete. It’s too bad you’re Las Russophobes, because your ignorant, self delusional, intolerant, hateful attitudes would make you right at home in Edinaya Russia.

    • Actually, most of those who post here have direct experience of Russian crimes.
      You show your stupidity by stating

      “I don’t think any people are bad people based on the place they were born or the government they were born under.”

      Unfortunately history does not support your view. Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union were both masters of manipulation and brainwashing people through their “education” systems.

      Unfortunately Russians are particularly susceptible to this sort of thing, as well as having a cultural bias towards racism and genocide.

      They did after all kill nearly nearly 4 times as many people in death camps and mass executions as Nazi Germany, nor have they been held to account for their crimes (mainly due to left wing do gooders such as yourself).

      As for voting for Obama, well your choice, does not mean I hate you. Despite the fact that he is abandoning eastern Europe to Russia, and will turn a blind eye to Russian imperialism a la Cahmberlain.

    • Dear ‘Hungry Moron’, Your’re right, you are.
      Why waste our time and eyes, looking at your useless drivel? Are you one of those ‘liberals’ who can’t tolerate anyone who has ideas which don’t fit into your scheme of things? You seem so, by your own words here.

    • Actually, I don’t think you need any food, Hungry Moron. You’re plenty full of hate yourself, despite your vote for Obama and your liberal beliefs. I’ve always been startled by how people who advocate the best possible ideals often seem not to follow them in real life.

      I agree with all the ideals you’ve mentioned. I also don’t think all Russians are bad — my wife and my daughter are Russian. I speak fluent Russian, and I love Russian literature (specifically Bulgakov — ask me about Master and Margarita…).

      Rather than talking to us personally, and deciding on a case by case basis who is rational and who is a loony, you decided to put all of us together in one basket and with one label. Now, well done, Hungry Moron! I’m sure all your liberal friends will be clapping their hands.

      • Actually, hungrymoron’s name fits him. His brain is hungry for knowledge, and he refuses to feed it. He must have read a few one line barbs, rather than the info in the longer articles, made a typical liberal knee-jerk comment, then went back to salivate over his TV and play his video games. People fail to realize that this is an educational website! Most people are clueless about history, political science, psycology, the continuous threat from the kremlin, etc. I have found the non-kremlin generated articles and links very informative, and would like to thank Kim, and everybody else, for the continuous stream of information..

  6. Felix – Thank you for the kind words and thank you also for the wonderfully apt thought picture of Sharikov as the Unkneeling Russian. Wonderful!

    I always like reading your comments as well.

  7. Hungry Moron,
    It’s hard to separate where you are serious, where you are self-deprecating, and where you ridicule others…

    I’m a … moron

    your post is quite convincing in making this case.

    I can only subsist on ignorant hate! Please tell me how much you hate me!

    It’s a bummer, because why would anyone hate morons? Pity, ridicule, ignore, maybe study (especially, when – as in Russia – morons represent 77 per cent of population)… But hate? why?

    I think people who fear criticism the most are people who’s ideas are weak.

    True. Although, coming from you – it sounds like projection.

    • Actually, the kremlin puts morons in insane asylems. Oh, I forgot, they do that with educated intellectuals also!

    • Dear Felix, my hearty AMEN! to your astute words to, ‘Hungry Moron’. You said it better than I could.

  8. The fact that New York doesn’t have good Russian restaurants is more of a bad reflection on New York and USA than on the Russian foods.

    New York and USA in general are unfortunate not only for not having enough good Russian restaurants, but also not enough good restaurants from other great cuisines.

    For example, in my opinion, one of the greatest cuisines in the entire World is that of the Republic of Georgia. If Andrew doesn’t spend all his time at McDonald’s and has ever tasted Georgian food, I am sure he will agree enthusiastically.

    However, I have never been to even a semi-decent Georgian restaurant in USA, even though I always try.

    Non-USA readers should understand that Americans have a totally unique food tastes.

    For example, the American national meal is called “peanut butter and jelly”: a slab of very salty foul-smelling peanut butter combined with revoltingly sweet artificial fruit jelly, betwen two slices of disgusting cotton-wool-tasting “white bread”.

    Another unusual taste is American hate for non-artificial ingredients and love for various disgusting chemicals.

    Here is the first typical American food store product that comes to mind:



    Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick: Blueberry (Artificial Flavored)

    “Now your favorite breakfast foods are even easier to eat. We wrapped a delicious sausage inside a sweet blueberry pancake, and put it on a stick to make it portable.”


    Yummy! Especially if you dip it in peanut butter and jelly! Who needs Russian blini and caviar!

    • Actually ostap, I spend all my eating out time in Georgian eateries.
      Imereli hatchapuri, Guruli hatchapuri, cartophiliani, katami da tkremali, satsivi, da kakheti gvino da Imereli chacha. The salads are great too.
      Nice to see something we can agree on.

      • Well, we also agree on the autonomy status for Kosovo and probably S. Ossetia and Abhazia

        • Yes, if you mean autonomy for Kosovo within a federal Serbia (with appropriate internationalised safeguards) for Kosovo, and autonomy for Abkhazia & South Ossetia within a federal Georgia (with appropriate internationalised safeguards, which id what the Georgian government has been offering for the last 5 years or so).

          • That would be what I would aim for. Of course, these conflicts have to have full international recognition and legitimacy, with the United Nations giving its final simultaneous approval for these solutions for Kosovo, Abkhazia, S. Osssetia and several other places, plus etting guidelines as to how to solve such conflicts from now on.

            And that’s exactly the position he Russian government has been offering for the last many-many years, a sit suggested that all these conflicts – Kosovo and Georgia in particular – be solved by an international committee. Of course, USA refused, arguing that USA must have its right and to keep intact those countries that it likes and to break up those countries that it dislikes.

            Good luck to Saakashvili on trying to change USA’s mind on Kosovo! I would be willing to bet 1 to 10000000 that he will get nowhere. USA is like Islamic Jihad or an HIV virus: once it gets hold of a place – it never leaves.

      • > Imereli hatchapuri, Guruli
        > hatchapuri, cartophiliani, katami
        > da tkremali, satsivi, da kakheti
        > gvino da Imereli chacha.

        Yes. That’s what Russians and think when they hear the word “restaurant”: Georgian food, most popular restaurant cuisine in Russia and ex-USSR.

        Too bad here in USA one can’t get great Georgian, Armenian and Azeri restaurants. There once was a very good Uzbek restaurant called “Firuza” but it soon closed, because New Yorkers weren’t curious enough to visit it. Even in West Hollywood, Armenian restaurants aren’t nearly as good as they are in Armenia, Russia and Georgia.


        Sir, you will immediately stop spamming this blog or we will cut off your ability to comment on it. You have just published SEVEN comments IN A ROW on this thead. That is an outrage. This is not your personal blog to write on whatever you like. Your action is crude and boorish and it will not be tolerated. If you cannot excercise restraint in the number of times you comment on a single post and the length of your comments, we will exercise it FOR you. Comprendo?

  9. http://russian-ukrainian-belarus-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/dining_a_la_russe

    Dining A La Russe

    Mealtime Service in Russia Inspired the French to Change their Style

    Dining a la russe was a style of serving meals where individual dishes were introduced and served to guests in courses.

    Dining a la russe, or service a la russe is a style of dining that is the precursor to our modern style of restaurant dining. Service a la russe is still practiced for formal dining, and while you may see it depicted in movies about upper-crust Victorians or uncomfortable clashes between social classes in the United States, this manner of serving a meal divided into individual courses featuring specific dishes while entertaining guests originated in Russia. Even more interesting, the French, whose culinary sensibilities have unarguably high standards, threw out their own style of dining in favor of the dining a la russe.

    Prince Alexander Kurakin, a Russian diplomat in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, is reportedly the man responsible for introducing the Russian style of dining to the French. The French have had a long-standing curiosity and interest in all things Russian, and this fact coupled with their admiration for Kurakin’s personal opulence probably contributed to the change in mealtime fashion.

    Before Kurakin introduced dining a la russe, the table was cluttered with dishes in great variety all at once. This “family-style dining” or even “buffet-style dining” was made popular in Western Europe during the middle ages, but it caused warm foods to go cold before consumed, dishes to languish uneaten in their own congealing sauces, and flavors to mix and clash with diners’ hungry indiscretion.

    The Russian style of dining introduced a more “civilized” manner of serving foods to guests. Each dish was brought out separately, either already arranged on individual plates for guests or, in the case of meat dishes, carved and served to guests who would then take the cut of their choice. The place setting was also an integral aspect of dining a la russe – it kept utensils organized and clean and brought order to a previously chaotic social custom.

  10. Russians and Americans have totally different food traditions and tastes. Russians are still bogged in the Old World tastes, preferring the old Russian dishes like beluga and salmon caviar with blini and sour cream, smoked sturgeon, fried porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, wild strawberries, salmon kulebiaka (saumon en crute) , etc

    But the American food tradition comes from England in general and Puritans in particular, where any kind of pleasure was considered a sin and where the food was intentionally made as revolting as possible.

    To see how good-tasting food was considered a no-no in puritanical protestant societies in England and Northern Europe, watch the famous Danish movie “Babette’s Feast”:


    The sisters agree to accept Babette’s meal, and her offer to pay for the creation of a “real French dinner”… Soon the sisters begin to worry that the meal will be, at best, a great sin of sensual luxury, and at worst some form of devilry or witchcraft. In a hasty conference, the sisters and the congregation agree to eat the meal, but to forego any pleasure in it, and to make no mention of the food during the entire dinner.

    The last and most relevant part of the film is the preparation and the serving of an extraordinary banquet of royal dimensions, lavishly deployed in the unpainted austerity of the sisters’ rustic home. The film, previously showing mainly winterly whites and grays, gradually picks up more and more colours, focusing on the various and delectable dishes, a feast for the spectator as well… He provides the viewer with explicit information about the extraordinary quality of the food and drink.

    Although the other celebrants do their best to reject the earthly pleasures of the food and drink, Babette’s extraordinary gifts as a Chef de Cuisine and a true connoisseur, so characteristically French, breaks their distrust and superstitions, elevating them not only physically but spiritually.

    The menu responsible for their pleasure features “Blini Demidoff au Caviar” (buckwheat cakes with caviar and sour cream); “Potage à la Tortue” (turtle soup); “Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine” (quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce); ….


    The greatest meal in the World starts with Russian “Blini Demidoff au Caviar” (buckwheat cakes with caviar and sour cream).

    There is no mention of such American contributions to the interantional cuisine as hamburgers, sweetened hot dogs on a stick, peanut butter and jelly, Coke, Pepsi, etc.


    Kvass or kvas ( borrowed in the 16th century from Russian квас (kvas)[1]) is a fermented mildly alcoholic beverage made from black rye or rye bread. It is popular in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and other Eastern and Central European countries as well as in all ex-Soviet states

    Kvass in Latvia

    After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the street vendors disappeared from the streets of Latvia due to new health laws that banned its sale on the street and economic disruptions forced many kvass factories to close. The Coca-Cola company moved in and quickly dominated the market for soft drinks, but in 1998 the local soft drink industry fought back by selling bottled kvass and launching an aggressive marketing campaign… In just three years, kvass constituted as much as 30% of the soft drink market in Latvia, while the market share of Coca-Cola fell from 65% to 44%. The Coca-Cola company had losses in Latvia of about $1 million in 1999 and 2000. The situation was similar in the other Baltic countries and in Russia. Coca-Cola retaliated by buying kvass manufacturers and also started making kvass at their soft drink plants


    Does it prove that Russia has good cuisine that America doesn’t? Your comments are hilarious igornant and merely confirm the accuracy of this post.

    Meanwhile, Russia is FULL of American restaurants and American food, while there is NO counterpart in America for Russian food. There is no Russian McDonalds in America, no Russia coca-cola, no Russian Snickers because Russia has proved itself totally unable to make such products.

    And you might be interested to know that eating Russian food creates a people who don’t rank in the top 150 nations of the world for adult lifespan. Americans eating their cuisine live 20 YEARS LONGER than Russians on average. Think about it, you utter idiot.

  11. Here are the ex-USSR foods that I miss the most when I am not there:

    Beluga caviar with blini

    Vladivostok salmon caviar

    Delcious smoked osetra and beluga sturgeons, eeel and salmon

    Live osetra and sterliad’ strugeons

    Raki (small river lobsters) from Rostov

    Home-made riazhenka sold at farmers’ markets

    Delicious Ukrainian and South Russian pears

    Huge sweet Georgian/Abkhazian pomegranates, as well as tangerines and persimmons

    Sweet, aromatic, firm, juicy delicious Uzbek melons

    Astrakhan watermelons

    Wild strawberries

    Delicious Moldovan peaches

    Real Borjomi mineral water (in dark-green bottles)

    Czar’s muscat wine from Crimea

    Porcini, chanterelles, morels and other wild mushrooms


    Shashlik po-Karski

    Central Asian mantu potstickers

    Various sophisticated torts, “Kievsky” tort being the simplest one.

    Slivochnaya pomadka, Помадка сливочная с цукатами, Красный Октябрь

    Georgian suluguni cheese and a similar smiked Adygean cheese

    Riga’s smoked eel and chicken

    Hundreds of various fresh Japanese-style seafood items in Vladivostok.

    (to be continued )

  12. Here are some of the delicious Russian/European/foreign foods available in Russia:

    Fresh draft Belgian and German beer available on every corner in the summer in Moscow, especially Leffe and Hoegarden

    Various delicious German dairy desserts, including my favourite red- and white- wine mousses

    German franks and wieners sold on every corner

    French and Italian pastries

    Foi gras

    Young Dutch smoked eels

    French cheeses and salmon mousses

    French baguettes, flown in from Paris daily

    Savoury foods and desserts at Cafe Pushkin

    Great food at various Chinese restaurants in Moscow, run by the best Chinese chefs “imported” from China, especially “lamb with sea cucumber (trepang) on a sizzling plate” at “Old Man Tsao’s” with a cold glass of draft Leffe.


    So you prove Russia has good cuisine by saying Moscow has good GERMAN and CHINESE food? Are you mental? You hafe not named ONE SINGLE RUSSIAN DISH in your entire diatribe, just some ingredients that theoratically could be used to make a dish. Just curious: Are you a heroin addict?

    • You write: “Savoury foods and desserts at Cafe Pushkin.” That is quite the description. Can you name a few of the dishes served here? Can you explain what your favorite dessert is at this cafe? If I look at your “lists” I see nothing but a shopping list of produce. You even list mushrooms that can be picked?!? My wife and I go pick the same mushrooms in Canada. How exactly does this make Russia unique?

      • Michel,

        Who says every country’s agricultural products have to be unique? Of course all countries with similar climates can grow the same agri products. Are there any great foods that one can find only in Canada and nowhere else? Yet you wouldn’t say that Canadian food sucks, would you?

        Same with USA. Aside from various dyes and artificial food replacements, no other great foods are uniquely American. In fact, the traditional American food is by far the least appealing cuisine in the entire World, along with landlocked parts of Africa. However, because here in USA we can buy foods that come from other countries, one can eat very well here in USA if one wants.

        Russia certainly has a much more interesting “traditional” cuisine, but being a northern country, it can hardly compete with, say, France, Italy, China, Japan, Georgia, Turkey. However, the Russian cuisine has incorporated so much from the French, Georgian, Turkish, and Italian cuisines, that you can eat very well there.

        I am aslo talking about what food average people eat or are offered at their local supermarket.

        Russians constantly eat porcini and chanterellles – Americans don’t. In Russia porcini are sold firm and fresh and cost little – in those few polaces that sell fresh porcini in USA, they cost an arm and a leg and are wilted and disgustng.

        Melons sold at Moscow stores taste like heaven – melons sold at US stores taste like cardboard.

        You can buy wild strawberries with sublime aroma on every corner of Moscow in the summer – in USA, wild strawberry is unavailable.

        You in Canada seem to be lucky to have places to go to pick porcini. Here in Northern California, the only places where porcini grow are state parks near the Russian River and the Pacific Ocean, but picking mushrooms there is a crime.

        Tell me, where can we Californians, who don’t want to go to jail, pick wild mushrooms then?

        • No, I wouldn’t say that Canada’s wild salmon or maple syrup “suck” but I would not call our salmon, or beef, or mushrooms or berries Canadian cuisine. However, we do have a variety of excellent restaurants that can take this produce and make excellent dishes. The difference is that Canadian restaurants compete for clients, notably the high end restaurants. If you have ever actually eaten in Russian restaurants, you will have observed that the service is horrible, the patrons are largely ignored and the food is bland and poorly cooked.

          If you truly want mushrooms, then I suggest you simply travel to Canada. You will find boletes in vast quantities (what you call porcini mushrooms) as well as wild strawberries and a variety of other berries. Unlike Russia, the service will be good, the border guards will be friendly and the roads will actually be in good condition.

          • Michel,

            Let me preface by saying that I haven’t been to Moscow since 2004. However, when I worked there:

            1. I ate all workday lunches and quite a few dinners at restaurants. I had excellent food and seldom, if ever, had any problems with waiters. This is partially due to my ability to pre-judge the restaurant quality, partially – to me being very polite and friendly towards the waiters and not acting as if they are required to speak perfect English, like so many North American expats do in Moscow, who overall act in Moscow the way US slave-owners acted on their plantations 200 years ago, if not worse. If you treat Russians with disdain and hautiness – they will respond in kind.

            2. Being a gourmet cook, I prepared many meals at home and found a great wealth of ingredients at Russian supermarkets and farmers’ markets.

            3. Overall, an average Russian fruit or berry is much more natural/organic, much more ripe, much more aromatic and tasty than the ones I find in USA. Russian sausages and cold cuts come in 100 times more varieties than American ones, contain fewer additives, and taste infinitely better. Ditto for dairy products. However, the same can also be said about pretty much any other European country when comparing with the USA.

            But then again, because unlike russophobes here, I have no hatefulness and phobias at all, I have the ability to find food jems anywhere I live in the world. When US people ask me: “How did you survive food while living in London?”, I say: “I never cooked better meals than I did in London, roasting various game birds and venison; cooking langostines and tortellini/pasta with porcini sauce, eating gourmet foods from other EU countries like: Greek yougurt, French cheeses, German desserts, Italian buffalo mozarella, etc, etc”. Ditto for Amsterdam and Berlin, not to mention Italy and France.

            It is all a matter of your attitutude. If you are a positive, open, curious, kind and loving person – you will enjoy life anywhere.

            If you are a russophobe, or a turkophobe, or a francophobe or any other kind of a phobe – you are driven by hate, fear, and gloating at other people’s misery. As the result, your own life is a misery. You reap what you sow.

            That’s why I am amazed to find out that so many hate-driven people exist, they flock to LR and derive pleasure out of any article that describes problems or miseries encountered by some Russians somewhere.

            That’s the main reason I have come to LR: to find out what drives hatemongers, why they derive pleasure out of gloating over other human beings’ suffering, and what childhood tragedies drive their miserable fear-filled and hateful adult lives.

            • You write: “Overall, an average Russian fruit or berry is much more natural/organic, much more ripe, much more aromatic and tasty than the ones I find in USA.”

              How exactly do you taste organic? Let’s review our biology. Plants take nutrients and then break them up and recombine them to make starches, sugars, proteins that eventually become fruit. The process is the same for an “organic” berry or the one that was grown with fertilizer.

              As for comparing Russian berries to North American berries, you must of course compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. I agree that fruit and berries taste better when eaten in season. Yes, a strawberry picked at the dacha will be tastier in July in Russia than most strawberries bought in Canada in January. However, compare your Russian strawberry to one grown in a Canadian garden and picked when ripe in July and the Canadian strawberry will be no worse than the Russian one, and is more likely to have fewer heavy metals and the like given the higher levels of pollution in Russia.

              The same is also true for wild berries and wild produce. The mushrooms and berries picked in Canada will be no worse, and potentially better, than those picked in Russia.

              As for your statement: “If you treat Russians with disdain and hautiness – they will respond in kind.” Please, I speak Russian fluently and have been traveling to Russia since 1995. Service is terrible in Russia not matter how you treat the staff. You are largely ignored in most restaurants and, all things being equal, a comparable restaurant in Russia will be of lower quality than a comparable restaurant in Canada.

              In other words, go to 5-star restaurant in Russia and compare it to a 5-star restaurant in Canada or go to a greasy spoon in Canada and compare it to a comparable restaurant in Canada, and you will invariably find the quality of the food and service better in Canada. This is based on close to 15 years of traveling and living in Russia in various cities.

              • Michel,

                1. Just go to Russian farmers markets and taste melons, strawberries, peaches, pomegranates, gooseberries, tomatoes etc sold there. Then go to an American farmers market and do the same. You will have difficulty chewing and swallowing American stuff after you taste the Russian – actually Uzbek, Georgian, Armenian etc – fruits.

                > In other words, go to 5-star
                > restaurant in Russia and compare it
                > to a 5-star restaurant in Canada

                Russians put much less emphasis on dining out. They dine in. Go to an average Russian home for dinner and compare it to an average American (and I assume Canadian) home. It’s like day and night.

                Ask Felix if his grandmother cooks 100000 times better than average American grandmothers. I bet she does. Unless you consider watery macaroni and cheese to be a delicacy.

                • I have been too Russian markets, and often the tomatoes are moldy and the fruit are half rotten. Yes, you will get some good produce, some that will be mediocre and the rest would result in a grocery store being closed down by health inspectors in Canada. You are creating a mythical Russia that based on my experience does not exist in reality.

                  As for the quality of cooking of grandmothers, you are also relying on a false generalization. Some Russian grandmothers cook well, others cook bland macaroni served, at best, with ketchup. Likewise, some Canadian grandmothers can cook meals that would put Moscow 5-star chefs to shame.

  13. ————–
    You have just published SEVEN comments IN A ROW on this thead. That is an outrage. This is not your personal blog to write on whatever you like. Your action is crude and boorish and it will not be tolerated. If you cannot excercise restraint in the number of times you comment on a single post and the length of your comments, we will exercise it FOR you. Comprendo?


    I apologise if I unknowingly exceeded the size limitations. If you let me know what these limitations are, I will gladly follow them.

    To be honest, since instead of a heavy argument over politics, I started talking about a lihgter and more entertaining subject like food, I got carried away a bit.

    > So you prove Russia has good cuisine
    > by saying Moscow has good
    > GERMAN and CHINESE food?

    Partially, yes. When somebody asks me if California has a good cuisine, I say “Yes” and list my favourite Japanese, Thai, French, Chinese and Italian restaurants.

    In Moscow, one of my favourite restaurants is Cafe Pushkin, which is 19th century Russian. But all other favourite restaurants of mine are Japanese, Thai, French, Chinese and Italian restaurants, just like here in California.

    > You hafe not named ONE SINGLE
    > RUSSIAN DISH in your entire diatribe

    Sure I have: Blini Demidoff au Caviar” (buckwheat cakes with caviar and sour cream), fried porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, salmon kulebiaka (saumon en crute) .

    Plus Andrew listed a whole bunch of Georgian dishes that are by now part of the Russian cuisine, exactly the way Italian pizza and pasta are now part of the American cuisine.

    Finally, most of the “ingredients” that I have listed are in themselves dishes or close to being a dish. Take french cheese, put it on a baguette – you got a great dish. Take any juicy sweet fruit or berry, wash it and slice it up – you got a dish. Slice a smoked sturgeon, put it on bread with cream cheese, tomatoes and a spicy sauce – you got a great dish. Take a fresh sturgeon steak, cover with black pepper, put into a rotisserie for 15 minutes or even less, serve with soy sauce and grated fresh wasabe – you got a real winner dish. Etc.

    > Just curious: Are you a heroin addict?

    No, my hobbies are quite different from yours.

    Why did you ask? Are your visitors from KLA again having a hard time finding buyers for the “good stuff”?


    Kosovo drug mafia supply heroin to Europe

    Kosovo: special report

    The Guardian, Monday 13 March 2000 01.19 GMT

    International agencies fighting the drug trade are warning that Kosovo has become a “smugglers’ paradise” supplying up to 40% of the heroin sold in Europe and North America.

    NATO-led forces, struggling to keep peace in the province a year after the war, have no mandate to fight drug traffickers; and – with the expulsion from Kosovo of the Serb police, including the “4th unit” narcotics squad – the smugglers are running the “Balkan route” with complete freedom.

  14. I got hungry reading it.

  15. Dave and Felix, can we even establish that these moronic trolls and often their sockpuppets have any ethnic or direct experience with Russia? I doubt it. I think most of them are typical trolling antisocials that latch onto a topic and a site and have never been out of their mom’s house let alone lived abroad.

    They are more reflective of the mindless little angry lefty that is a product of the US. It’s an underdeveloped, poorly educated mind that is nailed shut.

    There is also a pro-Putin cabal that have a long standing axe to grind with LR. Disrupting the site is a game for them. They seem to appear with a new moniker every couple of days and some people fall for it.

    What is morally repugnant about all of them at least for me is their absolute disregard for the Putin’s encroaching fascism and the human rights violations occurring in Russia. Ever notice they disappear when the subject is the journalists murdered, telephone justice, censorship, etc. Anything moral and they are back under their rocks.

    Kasparov in today’s WSJ spells out Russia’s aiding and abetting the savage murder of citizens in Iran.


    The pro-Putin trolls that have found a home here approve by ideological definition of the civilian murders in Iran. Putin would employ the same tactics in a heartbeat if it meant survival for his regime, they know it. They deserve to be ignored as the immoral pariahs that they are.

    • You’re completely right, Penny. Responding or even half-responding by talking around them eventually disappoints because there can be no interaction with ‘minds nailed shut’.

      I won’t do it again.

  16. > There is no Russian McDonalds in
    > America, no Russia coca-cola, no
    > Russian Snickers

    I agree. American food is the most sophisticated food in the World. Otherwise, why would Americans love and eat it so much as to become the most grotesquely obese people on Earth? Once you start munching on all that “artificially-flavored partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil” — how can you stop?

    > There is no Russian McDonalds in
    > America

    But if there were, here is the hamburger they would serve:

  17. > Dave and Felix, can we even
    > establish that these moronic trolls
    > and often their sockpuppets have any
    > ethnic or direct experience with
    > Russia?

    You absolutely must. Otherwise your Reichspropagandaleiter will get disappointed in you and will order your doctor to double your nightly dosage of seroquel and other sedatives.

    > I think most of them are
    > typical trolling antisocials that latch
    > onto a topic and a site

    Like you’ve latched on to LR?

    > and have never been out of their mom’s
    > house let alone lived abroad.

    That certainly describes me to the hilt. I have never been to any of the ex-USSR republics, and my detailed description of various delicious food found there and elsewhere in Europe are pure figments of my imagination. In reality, there are no porcini mushrooms in Russia:


  18. Ostap Bender

    That whole idea must have been stolen by KGB agents like us from McDonalds secret laboratories. The US food administration banned that fake Russian hamburger “couse no sane person in the US, the nation of overfed clowns, would ever eat that stuff.

  19. InCountryVlad

    What you are raised on is what you favor. When you cannot afford beef you can fish. I live in Russia and partake of the cuisine. What is affordable to the average citizen is not all that healthy. I can’t count the times I have been sick from fruit and vegetables tainted with one thing or another. I won’t even mention the condition of the meat. The mercury level of the fish here in the area I live is so high it is recommended to keep consumption down as much as possible. There is practically no food safeguards in place and not every product is required to detail the list of ingredients.

    • Really? Where exactly do you live? And which products are not “required to detail the list of ingredients”?

    • Really? Russian food standards are insanely strict.

      • No, they are extremely corrupt.
        There have been a large number of mass poisonings due to the excessive use of pesticides and other chemicals in Russia.
        Russia’s toxic food system is well known.

        • Abndrew,

          For some unfathomable reason you forgot to give any evidence supporting your story. I am sure it’s an oversight that you will easily correct. Unless, of course, it’s a wet dream/fantasy of yours.

          • Grain for example

            “Being one of the major players at the wheat global market in the recent years, the Russian Federation can hardly compete with European Union in the “front” of food quality and safety standards. The high portion of confiscated shipments of wheat (because of mycotoxin contamination), constituting yearly 20-30% of total wheat exports from Russia, makes the problem evident and urgent. Yet the food safety awareness within the Russian reality seems not to be mature enough at different segments of wheat chain to combat the problem fundamentally.”



            Then there is the environmental pollution that is a legacy of Russian government corruption and stupidity from the days of the czars through to today





            • Andrew,

              I aske dyou to give evidence for your claim that

              > There have been a large number of mass poisonings

              Did you give me any information concerning these alleged “mass poisonings” in Russia?

              Thank you in advance.

              • Ostap,

                Search engines are your friends. It took me 10 seconds to find this on regnum (for some reason wordpress doesn’t let the quotes through.

                and more and more.

                You are welcome. Next time try yourself; otherwise you look like a chess grandmaster in New Vasiuki. In the meantime an apology to Andrew is in order.

                • > Search engines are your friends.

                  Thanks, Felix, for teaching me.

                  > You are welcome. Next time try yourself

                  I think I am bold enough to try it on my own. Let me input “food poisoning” into my Google…. I got it!


                  In the United States, using FoodNet data from 1996-1998, the CDCP estimated there were 76 million foodborne illnesses (26,000 cases for 100,000 inhabitants):[36]

                  325,000 were hospitalized (111 per 100,000 inhabitants);

                  5,000 people died (1.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.).

                  Major pathogens from food borne illness in the United States cost upwards of US $35 billion in medical costs and lost productivity (1997)

                  None of the US Department of Health and Human Services targets [41] regarding incidence of foodborne infections were reached in 2007 [42]

                  Wow. You’ve open a whole new world for me, Felix! What would I do without you?!

                  • For a moment I thought you are genuinely curious when you were asking Andrew your rude questions… But when you are switching the topic (from mass food poisoning in Russia to foodborne illnesses over the world, including US) – I realize that you want to live in your delusional world.

                    I don’t know what childhood complexes you want to overcome by being such an obnoxious idiot, but your comments on public matters are as grotesque as your comments on the private ones.


                    • Ostap Bender


                      I don’t know which planet you live on but here in USA on planet Earth, we constantly have mass food poisoning scares, recent tomato scares being the most vivid in my memory because of my love for tomatoes. And before that I recall Taco Bell mass food poisoning scares, etc.

                      My point is that even in countries with high levels of sanitary science, like USA, food poisonings are inevitable (as can be seen from the quotes from Wikipedia), and I see no statistics to suggest that the sanitary level of food in Russia is dissimilar from that of USA and other developed countries.

                      What amazes me is that you, Penny and several other fellow Americans don’t give a hoot about the fate of Americans sufferning from food poisonings or, on a related topic, from hate crimes. All you care about are food poisonings and hate crimes in a far-away country of Russia.

                      Now, if this were done out of your sincere sympathy and burning concern for the suffering Russians – it would still be weird that you care about Russians and not about Americans. But you are not driven by sympathy. You are openly gloating at other people’s suffering.

                      Why would anybody else’s suffering give you joy? That is very-very sick.

  20. Ladies and Gents,

    Here are some YouTube videos I found about Russian food.

    Anthony Bourdain – A Cook’s Tour – St. Petersburg


    Your comments really are almost freakishly ignorant. First you praise Russian food by saying that Moscow has good Chinese, and now you quote Anthony Bourdain, who is famous for going to weird places and eating foods that normal people consider bizarre. He went to Africa and ate the anus of a wild pig, barfing. Do you think at all before you post your insipid drivel on our blog? Do you realize that your comments support our posts, rather than undermining them?

    How dare you attempt to post so many videos here? Is this your blog or ours? Do not attempt to post more than one video, if you’d like to point to others simply give the links. You seem to have no self control, like a child. You write whatever comes into your vacant head, and you do it as many times as you feel like, heedless of good manners or other people’s property rights. You’re on thin ice, and you’d better try to get a grip if you want to keep commenting here.

  21. That’s what I did: gave links. I had no idea your site would post them as videos.

    > First you praise Russian food by
    > saying that Moscow has good Chinese

    Excuse me, LR, but if we ignore all American foods that come from other countries, what will be left of the “American cuisine”?

    Pizza and pasta? No, that’s Italian.
    Oysters? No, that’s French.
    Peanut butter? No, that’s African.
    Wieners, franks, hot dogs and sausages? No, that’s German.
    Hamburgers? Steaks? No, that’s Pan-European.

    So, what is the American food if not the food that comes from other countries?

  22. Food is food. Good foods spread around the world faster than flu. What difference is there if a particular food in Russia originated in Astrakhan or in Teheran? If and how Russians eat it – that’s all that counts.

    Just look at potstickers and dim sum in general. We Americans in our ignorance think that their origin is China. In reality, all wheat-based products, including won-tons, potstickers, moo-shoo pancakes etc come from the Middle East, most likely from ex-soviet Central Asia. So, should we erase potstickers from the list of Chinese foods and call them “Soviet”?

    The truth is that, because of its location above Persia and China, every little ethnicity in Russia and ex-USSR has its own unique version of potstickers – Russian pelmeni, Ukrainian vareniki and pierogi, Georgian khinkali, Tatar and Central Asian mantu/manti, Korean mandu, etc etc. And what difference does it make if they come from Uzbekistan or from China?


    Chinese Food History

    The diversity in name, in cooking technique, and in filling of the small filled dumplings shows their basic importance here. The filled dumpling is probably a Near Eastern invention, but reaches its apogee today in East Europe (pelmeny, pierogi, vareniki, kreplach) and Central Asia. Italy has had them with the name ravioli. Wheat was domesticated [in Persia], and most wheat products were invented there.

    Probable Central Asian influence appears in the many forms of wheat cakes and dumplings. Many of these have relatives all over Asia, and probably came from westward; Shu remarks on how recent they are, tracing them back no farther than Han. Filled dumplings are included, and described in mouthwatering detail. Large filled dumplings were called mantou. Mantou is in fact the Chinese reflex of a word known all over Asia (from Korean mandu to Greek mantu or manti); it is probably not a Chinese word, and the food itself probably came from Central Asia (Anderson 1988). The point here is that meat-filled dumplings were all over Asia by this time; they were rather new in China; and they are almost certainly intrusive there.

  23. Michel, you write: “Cafe Pushkin.Can you name a few of the dishes served here?”

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been there in 5 years, and their web site has no menus. I recall that one of my favourites there was some 18-th century recipe that contained delicious roosters’ crowns.

    However, I found a menu for another Moscow restaurant that I have been to and liked: the restaurant at the Writers Union club. Russian writers are not the wealthiest people, so their restaurant is not as expensive or exalted as Café Pushkin et al, but some chefs are French trained, food tastes great, and the menu is very typical for intellegentsia-oriented pre-1917 Russian restaurants, as well as the newly re-emerging intellegentsia-oriented “post-1992” restaurants. I apologise if the menu doen’t seem good enough by your high Canadian standards, but keep in mind that the previously glamourous Russian restaurant tradition suffered destruction between 1917 and 1992 and is only now beginning to recover its former glory.


    (Progressive Russian cuisine)


    Russian Appetizers
    Smoked beluga sturgeon, marinated mushrooms, young suckling-pig, blini with salmon caviar, quails, Armenian basturma (aged spicy beef carpaccio), and assorted antipasti

    Suzdal Piroshki:
    Traditional Russian patties with the diverse filling.

    Black Caviar
    Salmon Caviar
    With pancakes and black bread.

    Fresh oysters “Fin de Clair” (?) .
    Served chilled with lemon and sauce “minonette” (?)

    Grilled Foi Gras Medallions with mango and apple salad

    Crab and prawn cocktail “Marie Rose” with lettuce and avocado.

    Caesar Salad

    Fried Baby Sturgeon Filet
    With cabbage and apple chutney

    Etagier of smoked salmon/lox with cream cheese and dill
    Served with Salmon Caviar

    Sturgeon shashlik (shish-kebab)
    With cucumber and beet salad in the spicy Tkemali sauce

    Five-Mushroom Composition
    Black and white Chinese mushrooms, boletus (porcini), champignons, and morels, served on crunchy toast

    Russian Composition
    Duet of beluga and sevryuga caviar with hot and cold smoked osetra sturgeon

    Armenian Basturma (aged spicy beef carpaccio ) with pear slices,
    and with cheese doughnuts, garlic and grape marmalade

    Crab salad of Kamchatka crab with “Geradot” calamari
    In cucumber sauce with avocado slices

    Carpaccio of Sakhalin Tuna
    with seaweed salad, ginger and Japanese mustard


    Mushroom Cream Soup “Dolgoruky”
    Accompanied by fried mushrooms and grilled cheese toasts

    Saffron Cream Soup with Mussels “Panache ”
    With an assortment of seafood

    Borsch “Chernikhovsky”
    Traditional Galician (West Ukraine) soup prepared with cured apples and white beans. Served with garlic dumplings.

    Summer Soup
    Cucumber, boiled egg, dill, served with cold kvass

    Vol-au-Vent of snails “Karem”
    with garlic and walnuts

    Foi Gras “Strasbourg ” on brioche with lingonberry
    with ragout of baked apples and dried apricot glaze

    Pelmeni (Russian potstickers) “Hunter’s”
    Pelmeni with smoked duck filling in basil sauce with boletus/porcini

    Rabbit Confit
    Served with bacon lentil ragout and red wine sauce

    Grilled Tiger Prawns “A la Caribbean”
    Served with mango and sweet-and-sour pineapple glaze

    Baked mushrooms and snails
    with French bread and garlic butter

    Vegetable tartalet (?) “Provencal”
    with goat cheese and olives, with sweet basil sauce and fried artichokes


    Steamed Salmon Filet “Haiku”
    In crunchy cornflour crust with orange sauce, teryaki sauce, rice and broccoli

    Turbot “Imperiale”
    Fried filet with the potato puree with truffles and mushroom sauce

    Filet of Devil Fish Crusted with Herbs and Lemon
    With potatoes and spicy sausage, served with Putanesco sauce

    Scallops and Tiger Prawns
    In lemongrass and ginger sauce, served with noodles and scallions

    Baked Halibut Filet in Cilantro Crust
    With fried eggplant, carrot marmalade and fried tiger prawns

    Filet of Baby Sturgeon in ginger glaze
    with basmati rice and confit of red cabbage, with beet and cream sauce

    Fried Sole “Diplomat”
    Served with boiled vegetables, potatoes and mushroom sauce


    Lamb “Tbilisi”
    Grilled marinated lamb sirloin/filet, with suluguni (Georgian mozzarella) piroshki and walnuts, roasted tomatoes, and garlic sauce

    Chinese Duck Breast In Five Spice sauce and shiitaki mushrooms
    Served with crispy duck “roulette” with mango and peanuts

    Leg of Lamb Stew
    with yogurt sauce, potatoes, peas and tomato confit

    Filet of Beef with Teryaki sauce
    with buckwheat noodles, fried vegetables andjam from exotic fruits

    Veal on the bone “Dijon”
    Served with potato-mushroom gratin, vegetables and red- wine sauce

    Venison on the bone with Walnut Crust
    Served with Thai stewed vegetables and sweet basil sauce


    Tête de Moine Cheese
    with grapes and sesame seed toast

    Cheese St. Andre
    with onion confiture and caramelised walnuts

    Cheese Roquefort
    with pears

    Cheeses Assorti
    with grapes and toasts

    • My experience is that the food in Russian restaurants is always more appealing in the menu than what is served. I have to say, for a “chef” your ability to remember and describe food you have eaten is quite limited. Why google when you should be highly capable of remembering and describing what you ate? Makes me wonder whether you have ever been to Russia.

  24. > and now you quote Anthony Bourdain

    Well, we can’t all quote just you as the only cuisine expert on Earth. Come to think of it, if I were to choose between you and Anthony Bourdain as my international food guru, I would probably take chef Bourdain. The only areas where I would trust your food expertise would be such American contributions to international cuisine as Twinkies, Baby Ruths, and opossum-meat hot dogs on an imtation chocolate chip stick with artificial peanut butter fried in partially hydrogenated oil of Ole fortified with 173 industrial-strength preservatives and retardants.

  25. I’d eat a Big Mac then Russian swill any day!

  26. Ostap Bender sure ain’t no Stepan Bandera

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