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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gagging on Groceries in Moscow

The International Herald Tribune reports that grocery shopping in Russia is still a nightmare:

Stockmann's, a Finnish supermarket chain, has become a glorified cathedral for expat foodies in Moscow. French hypermarts abound for American moms with children in tow. Expats who lived here even five years ago cannot believe the changes and the choices. Yet for foreigners in Moscow, Western-style grocery shopping is a wildly expensive hassle that can drive them to drink, insolvency, or both. It's not a lack of imagination, but perhaps an overactive one, that keeps expats in overpriced New Zealand lamb, German turkey, Dutch carrots and cheddar cheese. Off season, a basket of strawberries at a gourmet supermarket might cost €40, or about $50. In June, at the rynok, a basket could cost the equivalent of €1.

So those rynok strawberries are cheaper. But you can't get them out of season, and in a grocery store off-season they are $50 ($5 in an American Whole Foods, $10 at the most). And while they are cheaper, you have to ask yourself: Did they come from Belarus? If so, are they adulterated with atomic contamination? Or did they simply get picked from near a Russian factory, choked with industrial effluent? Maybe they are simply contaminated with botulism due to being stored near meat or being touched by unwashed, contaminated hands. If the seller's income is $5 per day, does he have much incentive to make sure they are safe? Are these strawberries one of the contributors to the short Russian lifespan and falling population? If they were toxic, would Russians do anything about it? They go on fishing at contaminated sites, wouldn't they go on eating the strawberries? Because, after all, to admit all the adulterations in Russian water and food products would mean giving up most of the pleasure of living for people who only earn $300 per month or less, wouldn't it? That's where most of the dictatorship's power comes from. Russians have so little that they are not prepared to give up anything in order to get the hope of something better. The net result is that, for example, over 40,000 Russians are killed each year by counterfeit alcohol. Yet nobody lifts a finger to do a thing about it, although the minute Georgia gives hints of independence the Kremlin has no difficulty banning its pure water and wine.

Still, wherever you go in Russia, no matter what you buy, you always feel lucky when you get it, like someobody is doing you a favor, like you might have got arrested just for asking, in fact just for thinking. That's the power of the Neo-Soviet Kremlin whispering in your ear.


Anonymous said...

No wonder that noone leaves any comments to your posts.. Such stupid analysis as yours is hard to find and doesn't desrve any attention. I wouldn't be surprised if you are posting from some mental isnsitution, being treated for paranoya and personality disorder.

Expats who lived here even five years ago cannot believe the changes and the choices.

So why the f**k are you going on about strawberies for $50 a basket? I ca verify that you CAN get strawberries off season and much cheaper than 50 bucks a basket. Or your stupid paranoyed brain cannot take it in that in Russia not everything is either exorbitantly expensive or from Chernobil? That you are not the only one who cares about the quality of food there? You are really sick.

La Russophobe said...

What you don't seem to understand, probably because you are a moron, is that this post doesn't reflect La Russophobe's comments, its a major story from the international press. So if you want to attack somebody, La Russophobe suggests you write a letter to the International Herald Tribune. And before you do, sober up a bit.

Meanwhile, La Russophobe dares to suggest that you don't have a blog which is more successful than La Russophobe's, and therefore you are in no position to talk. You don't even point to another blog about Russia which has more comments than this one; Accidental Russophile, for example, has far fewer. Your attempt to attack us on this basis is just desperation and just plain silly, since it isn't even our goal to attract comments, and especially not from morons like you. It's our goal to provide a running history of the rise of the Neo-Soviet Union, and we are doing that brilliantly, while you are doing nothing but blowing smoke.

And if you don't understand that foreigners hate the shopping experience in Moscow because it sucks in every way compared to the West, and the Moscow is the best Russia has to offer, then you are too drunk to be worth talking to.

Your response is typical Russophile garbage: Instead of actually trying to improve Russia, you degenerate into pathetic, childish denial of the facts, causing Russia to sink further and further into the mire.

La Russophobe said...

By the way, if you have any links to stories indicating that grocery shopping in Russia is a positive experience, you are welcome to post them. I realize that research and documentation is a foreign concept to you, but you might want to give a whirl sometime.

Anonymous said...

LR, again, could not explain herself completely in one post.

The original article is pretty positive towards Russian shopping idiosyncrasies. It’s only your selective ignorant thinking that managed to spin this article towards the negative light.

Just an advice, stay on the subject instead of rumbling non-sense. You were already told off once by Masha Gessen. Are you looking for another bitch slap?

You have Soviet mentality, aren’t you? During the USSR times, for every criticism a Sovok replied, “And they lynch Negroes in the USA!”

You do exactly the same thing:
A reader says, “when I traveled in Russia, I was not very happy with restaurant service at that one place. The other restaurants were nice, but that one place was horrible.”
Your typical response, “What do you expect from the degenerate Russians! It’s not that one place was bad, and others were nice, it’s just everything is bad in Russia, and you were lucky to find couple of good places! You know you are lucky no one killed you because you are foreigner! Let me tell you story about how all Russian live in dirt, they eat rotten potatoes, and drink vodka! I am a proud Russophobe!”

BTW, do you hire? Being hateful is so easy….

I think you get the point now.

La Russophobe said...

We're glad you changed your mind and now say you liked the article. Keep reading La Russophobe!

La Russophobe said...

By the way, we can post as many times on our blog as we like, and you have nothing to say about it. The next time you criticize us for posting on our blog, you will be denied the opportunity to comment on it. Keep your neo-Stalinist desires to control the freedom of others to yourself, if you don't mind. Or start your own blog and show us how to do it better. Until then, keep your advice to yourself or lose your comment privileges. Heed our warning.

La Russophobe said...

By the by the way, you totally ignore our point about the contamination of foodstuffs in Russian rynoki and the possible link to the shortening Russian life span. This proves what a pathetic propagandist you are. If you have any evidence that we are wrong, you certainly don't provide it (assuming, that is, you even know the meaning of the word evidence or research).

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, La Russophobe dares to suggest that you don't have a blog which is more successful than La Russophobe's, and therefore you are in no position to talk.

Huh, the popularity of your blog doesn't have anything to do with the seriousness of analysis of the state of the Russian affairs. Everyone in the right mind would realize it after reading a couple of your posts. I, personally, visit your blog just to see what other ridiculous and far-fetched conclusions you would make, like calling Sharapova a slut, etc. It's entertaining. And since when would s/o need to have a blog to critisize other blogger? Following this logic, you are in no position to say a word about Russia, but you do.

La Russophobe said...

ANONYMOUS: Ah yes, you are the only sane man in the world, and only your personal views count. Either this blog satisfies you personally or it can satisfy nobody.

Tell me, have you lived long in your ivory tower?

Sharapova is a slut. She sold her half-naked body to Sports Illustrated for money she did not need.

If you can't point to a better blog on Russia and explain why it is better, but only launch generalized attacks on this one, then your points are empty fluff.

Anonymous said...

"for money she did not need"
Russophobe, are you a commie? There is never enough money for anyone. Capitalism at its finest.

"She sold her half-naked body"

Yes, she wore a bikini. Now let you jealous brain think about it for a second:
She could have either waited until some wankers took pictures of her on a beach and then make money on her by selling the photos to magazines; or she can simply do some bikini photos and sell them herself:-)
She did not show anything anyone was not able to see by going to a swimming pool. Actually, the bikinis she wore, were to covering by todays standards. (As Sisco said several years ago, "Thong, thong, thong!")

So stop being jealous! When you will have a body like hers and there would be demand for you photos, then you can face a moral delemma on whether you should wear a bikini or a burka:-)

... but for now, put on your best XL size underwear, some sun cream for your wrinkeled skin, and enjoy your vacation!

Happy upcoming 4th of July!