I was inspired today by David Lebovitz, an American chef/writer whose blog on food and life in the City of Light I like to read. He just wrote a post on "goofy things in a Paris supermarket" and I thought I would do the same here. So I brought my camera to the Perekrestok chain store on Novoslobodskaya, and here are the results:
Kefir - I'd say the third most popular drink in Russia, after vodka and kvass! (only half joking) Kefir is a slightly carbonated, sour milk drink that is absolutely delicious (and, in case you were wondering, very healthy to boot!). There are approximately fifty billion different brands and percentages of kefir to choose from, but my favourite is Bio-Kefir (the green carton).
2) Lays "Crab" and "Red Caviar" flavoured chips
You know, for when you want to be classy while you eat chips.
3) Pickled corn in a jar, and various other pickled products:
4) Special K cereal
For some reason I have never been able to figure out, Special K cereal is RIDICULOUSLY expensive over here. That's one small box going for 689 roubles, which according to the fabulous website coinmill.com, is $23.92 Canadian. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (other cereal brands are nowhere near this expensive, if you were wondering. It's JUST Special K. Why???)
5) MedovukMedovuk is honey cake, a tasty Russian traditional dessert that is MUCH better home-made, but a store-bought version does in a pinch. My friend Natasha would always bring us a box of Perekrestok's medovuk whenever she would visit - yum! (Note: I had to fight off two businessmen in order to get a pic of this medovuk: it was the last one on the shelf! I think they were more than a little perplexed when I put it back after taking a quick photo, but they quickly snatched it up and ran off to the cash register with it...see how popular this cake is??)
To Westerners, Blinis are perhaps Russia's most well-known culinary dish. They're thin pancakes which can be stuffed with either sweet fillings (Nutella, sugary condensed milk, honey, cottage cheese, jam) or savoury ones (mushrooms, fish, caviar, smetana, smoked salmon). Obviously, like the medovuk pictured above, homemade blini are the BEST. But for the Russian whose rushin', prepackaged "just heat and serve" blini are a popular choice, and you can pick up blinchiki (the cute form of the name) with just about every possible filling. These remind me of "Bagel-fuls" back in Canada - slightly creepy looking tube-shaped quasi-bagels stuffed with a cream cheese-substance that can pass for a "breakfast-on-the-go" if you try really hard to trick your tastebuds while simultaneously ignoring the list of 37 different ingredients. Appetizing.
7) Dried fish
The less said about this popular snack the better. I still have painful flashbacks of a vodka-fueled night where I mowed down on a bag of these.
Kotleti is an umbrella term for various types of patties - either meat/fish or vegetable-based (I've seen beet kotleti, carrot kotleti, and lentil kotleti, especially popular during Post, or the Great Lent fast before Orthodox Easter).
9) Mayonnaise in a bag
Mayonnaise. Ingredient number one in a Russian salad. Ingredient number two: meat.
10) Harry's American Sandwich bread
When I was reading David Lebovitz's blog, his number ten goofy thing found in a Paris supermarket was this exact brand of bread - Harry's American Sandwich bread. When I saw his picture, I immediately thought, "Wow! I know I've seen this somewhere!" So today when I walked into the Perekrestok on my food photography mission (and yes, I definitely did get some weird looks as I ambled around taking pictures of food), I made a beeline for the bread section to see if I was right. Yep, it turns out that Harry's is not just a Parisian phenomenon but a Muscovite one, too. David Lebovitz posited that the bread is so popular amongst the French because it is sweeter than most and makes large sandwiches - plus the "American" part of the description makes it seem trendy. I honestly don't know why Parisians or Muscovites would choose this bread over the delicious homemade varities you can get that are nestled right along beside (and that are baked fresh in the store nonetheless!) - Russian bread is something I've fallen in love with over here and I don't know how I'm going to cope back in Canada without my 20-rouble loaf of "domashni khleb"!
Anyways, there is your look into a typical Russian supermarket. I didn't get around to including the huge selection of sour cream, tvorog, vodka and beer, but you can take my word that it was quite extensive!
Now I'm off to rustle up something to eat. Perhaps some Russian bread? Gotta load up now - I only have two weeks left before I have to return to boring old Canadian bread!