Hedgehogs and KFC

Look what I found at the grocery store today: hedgehog cupcakes!

They’re so cute, aren’t they? Apparently the pastry chef is very protective of her pastries though because right after I took this picture, I was told that photographing the food isn’t allowed. Or something like that; I didn’t actually understand the woman’s sentence, just that I couldn’t take pictures anymore. I think the bakery section of this store is my favorite. The store is called Seven (yes, in English, and yes, that’s strange). I usually buy these wonderful cheese-topped breads (right side of picture below). I’ve also tried bread stuffed with potatoes (pretty good), meat and onion (a little weird), and cabbage (unexpected).

Today, I tried a heart shaped loaf of bread with a slight glaze on it (pictured below). Good, but nothing fantastic. Just your standard Russian bread. I also tried a poppy seed roll-up, but it gave me a slight allergic reaction for some reason, which is sad because I generally love poppy seeds.

I can assure you that there will be several more posts about food, mostly because it sits still and I usually eat it leisurely, which means it is both easy and non-anxiety inducing to photograph, unlike many other things I would like to take pictures of here.

My first solo-Russian-language experience in the country centered around food. I had to break a large bill the ATM had given me, and I decided that the best way to do that was to buy some good ole’ traditional, tried’n’true KFC chicken at the train station. Western restaurant chains are more likely to be able to break large bills. I asked the cashier lady if she could make change, completely botching my newly-learned word for change. I got a quizzical look, but eventually got across my question, to which she responded that if I bought something, she could break the bill. I ordered five chicken strips. Then Miss Cashier asked me a simple yes-or-no question: “original” or “something-else-that-I-heard-but-definitely-didn’t-understand.” Seeing my confusion, she made little popping movements with her fingers near her mouth, something which I took to mean “crispy” but actually meant “spicy.” And that is how a girl who hates all spicy foods ended up with flaming hot chicken strips. But I had gotten change and chicken, so I was happy. I ate three strips anyway, just because I was really hungry and trying to remind my stomach that it was, in fact, dinnertime in Russia. The other two strips sat in the refrigerator until just this evening, when my host mother, Irina, asked me if I was ever going to eat them or if she should just throw them out. You know, I’ve just remembered that one of the other students has been complaining about how difficult it is to find really spicy foods in Russia, like curry maybe. Maybe I’ll advise her to try curry.