Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 14:37:18
25 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Eating, Drinking, and Putin's New Look

by Alice E.M. Underwood
Gourmet Delicacies and the Great Beyond

1. If you’re craving a refreshing summer beverage, how about a nice, cool glass of black sludge from a broken drainage pipe? When an underground drain started pouring a stinky substance onto Sochi’s Chkalovsky Beach, most sunbathers didn’t automatically think “drinking water.” After a city spokesperson revealed that that’s exactly what it was (although in untreated form), some Internet tricksters offered city officials a sip. “Potable” is all relative, it turns out.

2. Turkish tomatoes and French cheese are all but a distant memory. A poll by the Romir research company shows that two-thirds of Russians have gotten used to the domestic substitutes for most foods that are no longer imported. Though a few have noted lower-quality meat and dairy products, most Russians polled haven’t observed significant changes in food quality in the past year – a shift from 2015, when the initial ban on some foreign food imports caused some upset stomachs.

3. Death is complicated enough. To ease the burden, the Kremlin is amending legislation to increase access to funeral services and simplify the paperwork for burials. Varying costs for the same services, and the presence of “gray agents” who charge 10-15 times higher rates, have led to the market being described as “chaos.” The goal is to extend the quality and accessibility of services offered in Moscow into the regions and to make the process “civilized and comfortable” – at least, as much as such an event can ever be.  

In Odder News

  • Camel racing. Camel milk. Camel exports. Camel attacks? All this and more in Siberia’s industry with the bumpy beasts of burden.
  • A mass brawl broke out on a Moscow construction site, involving around 40 workers and sending six to the hospital. The quarrel started simply enough, but eventually, a straw broke the camel’s back.
Quote of the Week

“He couldn't catch it for some time...but got his own way in the end.”
—The President's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Putin’s underwater hunt for a single pike, which allegedly lasted two hours.

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

Victory Day and cheeky chess pieces
Victory Day and cheeky chess pieces

Victory Day meant full streets but empty skies. A hollow chess piece hides more than its next move. And a day in the life of an Arctic doctor. 

Pop music, Pythons, and Kindergarten on the Run
Pop music, Pythons, and Kindergarten on the Run

An anti-politics pop song, the drive against Hollywood, and education for deer herders. Plus, Putin, pianos, and pythons. 

Russian Youth, Then and Now
Russian Youth, Then and Now

We celebrate the anniversary of the Pioneers, explore Russia’s Generation Z, and for fun, admire a baby bear helping out in the garden. 

Bananas, Ballerinas, and Bubble Bath
Bananas, Ballerinas, and Bubble Bath

Blackface and bananas raise racist concerns ahead of soccer match, a linguist links Siberian Ket and Navajo languages, and video bloggers bring bubbles and pets to parliament. 

Celebrating Russian Language Day with Poets, Filmmakers, Journalists, & Robots
Celebrating Russian Language Day with Poets, Filmmakers, Journalists, & Robots

Celebrate the wealth of Russian culture with Pushkin's birthday, Russian Language Day, Sokurov's film award, Russian museums, and, um, Megyn Kelly's weird interview with Putin. Well, at least those first four. 

The Wooly Mammoth of the Past Is the Hotel of the Future
The Wooly Mammoth of the Past Is the Hotel of the Future

Mammoth skulls, ancient lizards, intangible money, train-jumping, and the great knights of Slavic history. Russia Day really does bring out the best.

Soccer, Sci-Fi, Snipers, and Tsoy
Soccer, Sci-Fi, Snipers, and Tsoy

Russia hosts the Confederations Cup, Strugatsky sci-fi gets a reboot (or just gets booted), and we honor the memories of WWII's female snipers and of the rock legend Viktor Tsoy. 

Baller Ballerinas, Flying Taxis, & Gardens in the Sky
Baller Ballerinas, Flying Taxis, & Gardens in the Sky

Celebrate soccer with metro-station ballet, explore the galaxy with Yandex, and take a stroll through Moscow's rooftop gardens. Plus the Beatles, Stephen Colbert, and 29 Russian writers.