What is life really like on the “Other Side” of whatever barriers the Usual Suspects try to erect? My own (limited) experience in Russia, China, and the -Stans suggests it is often quite different from what our media tries to tell us. Hence it is fascinating to read first-person observations from Gilbert Doctorow, an American with extensive Russian experience who now lives in Belgium.
Here he describes his current vacation in Russia on the Gulf of Finland, not far from St. Petersburg. Read the whole thing, as they say. One part which particularly surprised me was his account of dining experiences:
"One example of the themed restaurants is an eatery several kilometers from us which has interconnected ponds in front of it from which the diners catch their own fish for the chef to prepare. Needless to say they are not fishing for catfish but for sturgeon and other prized catches.
Another restaurant just near our hotel operates under the name “Stroganoff” and is a palace for meat-eaters. The central part of the menu lists “strip loin, rib-eye”and other American beef cuts alongside the universally known filet mignon in portions of 300 to 350 grams. Most remarkably, the list of these cuts is in duplicate: one for corn fed beef at around 35 euros and another for grass fed beef at around 24 euros. To my knowledge, carnivores in Belgium are offered no such choice… "
In diet-obsessed US, one would expect the grass-fed beef to be the variety selling at a premium price. Russia is different!
Gilbert Doctorow – International relations, Russian affairs