Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Russian Cuisine

First, I would like to say that I hope to get more pics up within a couple of weeks... So stay tuned!
A few nights ago I sat down for dinner at around 5:30pm, as usual. For some reason my hozaika (host mother) seemed unusually jubilant. As usual, there was a fresh tomato cut-up and salted (with mayonaise) sitting on one plate. On another plate was the main course. It was "cutlette" and vegetables.
I began eating my dinner. My hozaika kept asking whether it was good. Really, it had the same Russian (unprocessed/natural) taste that most local foods have. I responded (in Russian) that, "Yeah, its great!" Every couple of minutes she would pipe-up with, "So, do you like it?" I became curious to why she had developed such an interest in whether I enjoyed her cooking.
My dear hozaika said, "Here, eat another cutlette! It is 'tistes"!
I smiled and thought, "Thats funny! It sounds like she said 'testes'"
My thoughts were quickly interupted by her clarifying that it was "'yaitsi' (or testicles)" that I was eating for dinner.
My initial thought was, "My God... I must have misunderstood." But there was no misunderstanding.
My second thought was, "I am going to puke all over the kitchen table." That was averted, but not by much.
Hozaika had a tremendous look of satisfaction on her face. I am rather confident that there was no smile to be found on my face.
My dismay was further compounded when I learned that 'tistes' was the 'meat', in the 'meatball soup', that I have been eating for the past two months.
So, what did I learn from this experience? Testicles are best served salted. What else did I learn? Really, they don't taste that bad... As I said, I've been eating it for months. It only tasted bad once I knew what I was eating.
My perception of what is "acceptable" or "unacceptable" to eat has greatly changed since I got here. Just the week before I heard a cat meowing in the kitchen. I thought, "How odd, we don't own a cat..." When I went into the kitchen I found my hozaika holding a hammer over the cat. My first and immediate thought was, simply, "It looks as if we shall have cat for dinner."
Fortunantly (as far as I know), we didn't have cat. The cat was a neighbors'. And the hammer was for some other purpose. Though I cannot say that I would be too suprised if I found out that my hozaika does have a special recipe for kitten.
Hope all is well! Happy Thanksgiving!

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