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September 22, 2012
Elsa Evans-Kummer , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Coming to Russia from a place were I ate little or no meat, I had little hope of enjoying the food here, knowing that its general base is meat. And I was right about the base. So far the only meal that does not contain meat on a regular basis is breakfast, and even that often has a side of meat. If upon arriving I had decided to continue avoiding meat products, I would be a walking bean pole because I would have had a most difficult time finding a suitable meal in any restaurant or private home. But I was wrong about the food not being to my taste. I do, in fact, generally enjoy the meals. If the meat is not to my liking, it ends up on a different plate.

Borscht, a traditional Russian soup is very, well ... for lack of a better word ... flexible. Both the meat and vegetables vary, but as long as the soup has beets, it can be called borscht. So you might have two borscht soups right next to each other that taste quite different. Blenie, a Russian pancake that is no different than what we and the French call a crpe, does not follow a recipe at all. Only the batter has guidelines. We often eat blenie for breakfast and then eat the leftovers for lunch. For breakfast we eat blenie with sour cream, sugar and sour berries. The sour cream here is really not that sour and tastes more like heavy whipped cream when put with sugar. We don't know don't know what the sour berries are called in English (or in Russian, for that matter!), but they're good. The cakes often have a marshmallow textured layer, not my first choice but edible. On the plus side, the rest of the cake is amazing. There are also chocolates that are delicious plain or with the occasional mystery filling. Everything here seems to be healthier. Even the ice cream has less fat but tastes exactly the same. Since my arrival I've seen on average only three slightly heavy people a day, and those are usually more elderly.

Some people avoid trying new things that may look and taste different. For many years I was one of them. However, I am proud to say that the 15 days that I've spent so far in Russia have already changed that.

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