Although the amount of food I have grown to like has certainly expanded since I got to Carleton, I would still consider myself a picky eater. At Carleton I could get away with being somewhat selective when I went to the dining halls and I almost never had problems finding something I wouldn’t put in my stomach. But honestly, I was pretty scared about the food before I arrived. Several of Russia’s signature dishes are made up of ingredients and textures that I just despise such as sour cream, beets, and pickled anything so I assumed that my choices would be limited and that I would have to learn how to power down some strange new dishes. But I was wrong. It hasn’t been like I had imagined at all. In fact, I would even say it’s pretty great. It certainly took some adjusting to and my intestines would also say the same but the food on МГУ’s campus (that’s MSU or Moscow State University in English for all you uncultured readers out there) and in the city of Moscow itself has been a pleasant surprise so far.
The food on campus was one of, if not the biggest, concerns of mine before I left for Russia. Two years ago I had never had a salad in my entire life and now I eat them almost daily. I knew that Russians have a different idea for what dictates a salad, with their version usually containing beets, peas, mayonnaise, and other assorted ingredients that aren’t my favorite. The first time I walked into one of the several cafeterias on this city-esque campus, sure enough I was greeted by strange and colorful looking dishes labeled as salads. After some experimentation, I think I have come to realize that I might have been a little harsh on the beet salads before I got here because they are starting to grow on me. As for the carrot salads, a dish that I never imagined would’ve existed, they have become my new staple and I will definitely be experimenting with my own take on carrot salad when I get back to the United States. Main courses have been great so far with several choices of starch and protein provided at each meal as well as a few choices of soup. МГУ’s dining halls certainly have the upper hand over Carleton when it comes to breakfast. As an added bonus, the dining hall located closest to us never closes and provides a full meal well into the late night.
As for the food in and around Moscow, which I was less concerned about, all of my expectations have been surpassed. With all of the free time I have on my hands, I have been able to eat at several places that served classic Russian cuisine along with a few “cultural experiences” including a Russian take on an American burger joint as well as a traditional Mexican restaurant. Located in the tourist-geared state department store, ГУМ, is a delicious and reasonable priced restaurant called Stolovaya No. 57 which served Russian classics in the style of an old Soviet dining hall. As my professor has informed us, the food was not as edible in the dining halls that Stolovaya No. 57 looks to imitate. Having only tried a dishes of Georgian cuisine at assorted cafes, one of the most delicious pieces of food I have had so far was a cheese bread dish known as khachapuri. Georgian restaurants are plentiful in Moscow and a full meal at one is up next on my list of restaurants to dine at. Living in Texas, I have a slightly biased opinion on what I find to be good Mexican food but I must say that I have certainly had worse. Poncho Villa, the name of the place, needs to spicen up their salsa a bit and maybe add a couple of dishes to the menu but I certainly respect whoever had the idea of opening up a Mexican place in downtown Moscow.