Russia, Food Wasteland
A reader tipped us by e-mail to a new list just published by mineral-water maker Pellegrino of the 50 best restaurants on the planet. Three of the top ten and eight overall are located in the United States, the nation most honored by the list. American chef Thomas Keller, who has not one but two restaurants in the top 50, is the world’s most lauded auteur de cuisine.
And guess what: Not a single restaurant in the top fifty is even located in Russia, much less does it prepare Russian cuisine.
As we’ve said a number of times before (click the “cuisine” category in our sidebar to read more), we find that both Russian cuisine and Russian sport are perfect metaphors for gaining insight into the nature of Russia itself. Russians go on braying like jackasses about America being the land of “disgusting” Big Macs, yet not only do Russians wolf down such American snacks at breakneck speed but they remain as ignorant as stones of the fact that America leads the world in fine cusine as well, leaving Russia in its dust in both respects. Russian attitudes towards cusine are exactly the same as they are towards everything else: They just don’t give a damn.
They are unable to accept criticism, unable to reform, and therefore unable to improve. For centuries, therefore, Russian cuisine like Russian politics languishes in a barbaric backwater, stagnating and stinking and repelling the planet. Russians have nothing to market like an American cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake, and even if they did they could not market it, because their rabid xenophobia prevents them from even remotely understanding how to sell products to foreigners and their headless-chicken-like corruption, disorganization and inefficiency would prevent them from effectively distrubuting such products even if they could sell them.
Meanwhile, Russia has not developed any manner of genuinely interesting domestic cuisine. The classic “Russian” dish of borshcht is in fact stolen from Ukraine, and it’s hardly scintillating enough to capture the attention of a serious foodie. Russians have little if any idea of the concept of customer service, and even less of a clue about how to engage and entertain foreigners, against whom they bear the latent resentment of infamous Russian xenophobia.
And the net result is this: Upon viewing this objective information, Russians will not cry out for reform. They will instead blame the list-maker as a “racist” and a “Russophobe” and they will rationalize and justify their failure. They will, in other words, continue it, continue to remain a backwater in the world’s society, continue to decline into degradation, misery and squalor.