Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dear Americans: A Letter from an American To Americans

Welcome to Russia! And I mean that in the most sincere way possible. Despite all of the rumors circulating in our own country, Russia is actally a pretty cool place. It's modern and there are things about it that are extremely convenient. Russia however, is not America. So I thought I would help you out by giving you some advice before you go blundering around irritating people like me.

First off, Do not even attempt to interfere with anything having to do with food. Why? Because Russians have a thing with food. You're just going to have to deal with that. In America if you go out to dinner and just order a soup and salad, that's fine, but in this country it's not allowed. If you tell someone that you just want soup and salad, they will pretend to not understand your english, and order you additional items. If you tell the translator (Me and anyone else who knows english and Russian at the table) that you just want soup and a salad, we will not translate this request to the person paying and you will end up with a meal anyway. It's Russia. You might as well enjoy the good food.

Secondly, all restaurants have cloth napkins. These napkins are for your lap. You do not wipe your mouth with them. What do you think the paper napkins are on the table for?

Thirdly, plan for a restaurant dinner to take at least two hours. This isn't america. Russians enjoy their food. Not only that, but service in restaurants is a lot slower here. So just relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

Fourthly, life equals tea. Learn this lesson and learn it well, grasshopper. Russia without tea would be like...jelly without peanut butter? Milk without cookies? Actually tea is so much a part of the culture here that the two are inseperable. If you are invited to someone's house, expect to stay for tea. And don't expect to "Just have tea" Mostly because "having tea" also includes butterbrot, cookies, jelly, and sometimes other random things that the Russians have about the house. It's insulting if you don't have some.

Speaking of butterbrot, if you are making one for yourself, do not make it like an american sandwich. Butterbrot are meant to be eaten open-faced. Besides if you add that second slice of bread you lose the flavor of the kolbasa and cheese.

Finally, Russians are a proud people. You'd better try whatever national/traditional dishes they offer. Even if it's cold fish, butter soup, or funny-looking whipped cream. Besides, why wouldn't you try it? You might not get another chance.

Please learn these lessons and learn them well. You'll save people like me, who live in two worlds a lot of agrivation. And please, enjoy your stay here. It really is a great country.


Anonymous said...

Nice job, Abigail. Keep it up!

B. Rock

Wry Exchange said...

Good, informative post.