Russia Stuffs her Face with American Eats
One of the most utterly hilarious lies we have heard about the people of Russia is that their taste in food is much better than that of Americans, that they have no interest in American fast food.
How odd, then, to see major stories in both the New York Times and the Moscow Times reporting on the explosive growth of American fast-food franchises in Russia. Subway is poised to overtake McDonald’s in Russia, the MT reports, and it’s not because of lo-cal or vegetarian dining options like those popularized by spokesperson Jared Fogel in the USA. Nope, from Subway Russians demand only sandwiches packed with fatty sausages and other meats.
The extent of Russia’s passion for American junk food is truly breathtaking, as is the extent of Russia’s hypocrisy and mendacity on the subject.
Gagging on Russia
Anatoly Komm in his Moscow restaurant, Varvary
Even when Russia gets something right, it’s still wrong. That’s Russia in a nutshell. And we do mean nut.
For the first time, Russia has placed a restaurant into the world’s top 50 as assayed by the San Pellegrino sparkling water company. The place is called Varvary, and its chef is Anatoly Komm. It even specializes in Russian cuisine! This ought to be a great day for Russia.
But here’s what Komm has to say about his eatery (which costs over $300 per person to explore):
Meet Lina Kulchinsky of Sigmund Pretzel Shop in New York City. She’s a Russian who wanted to be successful in the food business. Here’s her formula (photos from the New York Times):
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.
The Independent reports (click the “cuisine” category in our sidebar to read more about Russian food and drink, if so it can be called):
At the newly opened Café Khachapuri, just off Pushkin Square right in the heart of Moscow, young Muscovites tuck into plates of coriander-infused chakhokhbili chicken stew, spicy lobio beans and the eponymous khachapuri – gooey cheesy bread.
None of these exotic Georgian dishes tastes like the bland indigenous Russian food, and nor do their consonant-heavy names roll off the Slavic tongue easily. But everyone knows exactly what they’re ordering. Georgian food, perhaps the tastiest and most exciting of cuisines in all the former Soviet countries, has long been popular in Russia, and as new restaurants spring up across the capital, its popularity is going from strength to strength.
Russia and Mickey D
There are 235 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia. Before this year is out, that number will increase by a whopping 20% as the company spends $150 million on the Russian business.
Russian McDonald’s outlets are twice as busy on average in Russia as one of the chain’s locations in the United States, seeing an average 850,000 customers compared to just 400,000 in the USA.
Over 125,000 Russian workers owe their income to McDonalds. That number, of course, is increasing just as rapidly as the number of restaurant locations. Whole industries previously unknown in Russia have been created to supply the burger chain with the 300 different ingredients it needs to produce its daily menu of American cuisine.
Annals of Russian “Cuisine”
Several times already (click the “cuisine” category in our sidebar to see them) we’ve exposed the pathetic charade that is Russian cuisine, a perfect representation of the country itself in that is embodies unreformed yuckiness whilst the benighted population thinks it grand.
But even still, the comments about the latest Russian restaurant to open in America’s eating capital, New York City, in the New York Times by the nation’s leading restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, bear noting: