Thursday, October 8, 2009

GBC: Russian Edition

I’ve got to return to the topic of food so I can ask – why are Russians such babies about spices? I have yet to hear a suitable explanation as to why this country, so close to so many rich gastronomical heritages, has such a bland collective palate.

Perhaps the winter is too cold for indigenous spices, and the home cooking of the country reflects those ingredients that can be found in such a climate? No. Why – we recall – did other European countries develop a taste for spices? Because one could salt one’s meat and it didn’t matter how rotten it had gotten. No, the question of home-grown spices doesn’t work.

Then I thought perhaps it’s because Russia is so far north. The Silk Road passed it by. The second part is true, at least; all of the paths went through Turkey. BUT -- let’s think about where Russia got Russian Orthodoxy and almost every feature of its native folk architecture. I say this with authority when I answer my own question: From Constantinople. Seems to me spices are just as easy to ship up as icons and priests and stones and masons and architectural plans.

Different strokes? Again, maybe, but an entire populace, for generations, has collectively refused to eat anything spicy for so long that it has become some bizarre aspect of natural selection (only the gastronomically cowardly survived?)?! I highly doubt it. First of all, I don’t think that’s how evolution really works (that is, pardon me, your ancestors aren’t monkeys, no. The world’s only been around for three thousand years and we’ve only got three more to go) and second – I don’t buy the concept of collective taste. I’m pretty sure it’s a Law of Society:
For any population of x (where x is greater than or equal to 2) there shall always be a minimum of 1 Jan Brady.
Or Meg Griffin, if your pop culture tastes don’t have tendrils extending far enough back to know the Brady Bunch. Mine just barely do.

As an “experiment,” I’ve catalogued every space that I consumed today. In order of prevalence:
That’s it. And it’s not like I chose the wimpiest dishes available! Live dangerously! What is going on?

Also, speaking of tendrils, I’m reminded of the Neil Gaiman short story in which he writes a Sherlock Holmes story in a Lovecraftian universe. The way he meshes the two is genius. It somewhat inspires me to pursue something derivative, but with Virginia Woolf and Lovecraft. Or perhaps Hemingway and the latter. What say you?


otkazat’sia ot vkusnoi edy - to decline delicious food


Monica said...

You should have packed some spices with you. Sorry the food is so dull. When you come home we'll have to go to Margaritas!!

Andrew said...

Yes please! When I came back from my semester abroad in St. Pete the first thing I did on American soil was go to the Mexican restaurant in Dulles and pig out on burritos...I must have put half the bottle of tabasco sauce on top. :D

I may very well pack spices in my suitcases for the spring semester...

Justin said...

I say huzzah!

ps: my god... spell check approved of that. fantastic.