I’m back from a Russian restaurant (of course it’s a Russian restaurant; I mean Russian in the sense that it serves Russian food). It was a game restaurant, where neither the proprietor nor his son spoke more than a couple of words in English. There were guns, crossbows and animal pelts and mounted heads all over the walls.
A vegetarian’s nightmare. I ate bear, and elk.
I gained the admiration of the proprietor by asking about the pelts on the wall. Since we had no words in common, I finished up by pointing at something I thought was a dead wolf, or what a dead wolf used to wear, and asking, “Ah-hoooo?”
And so on, through to bear noises. And my version of a civet cat was, essentially, “miaoww?” to establish the genus, then doing it again in a deep voice.
Anyway, as a consequence, though I arrived at nine and was still there at midnight, their sole customer, they brought out “samples” of their vodka collection.
They were home-made vodkas, with various things steeped in each one. For example, cedar, birch, ginger, horseradish, some red berry, peppery-sweet, and one other. The proprietor said, “Taste!”
They weren’t “tastes”; they were double shots. I managed heroically, except for the horse-radish vodka, which defeated me.
So now I’ve had an encounter with “the Russian soul.” We agreed on things like, “Russia good”, and “Australia good”, and other important matters.
Neither of those propositions is true, by the way. Russia is transitioning into a theocratic fascist state, and Australia has just voted in a bunch of red-necked racists who run off-shore concentration camps where refugees are kept, subject to being raped or murdered, until they go mad. Then they’re kept on in captivity anyway. But we couldn’t manage nuance.
I got home. On the way a beautiful girl nearly ran me over with a horse. Oddly enough, that really did happen. You can hire horses in St Petersburg, even after dinner. She may have taken on more vodka than me.
The evening was good, because I started today not much liking Russia or its culture, because of the relentless nightmare of Immigration: two hours in a concrete bunker while nothing happens. Now I’ve changed my mind. Russians are cool!