More on food prices, sources, and quality


After a trip to the hidden Vietnamese market in Mar’yina Rosha. One full knapsack almost two heavy to carry for three miles was R930. Yes, I actually walked there. The doctor ordered half an hour of jogging daily unless I’m tired of life, and appointed Alexandra to supervise my behaviour. Not being a fan of any time of exercise I talked Alexandra into replacing aimless running around Sokolniki by a walk to the market. I must say that walking straight these these old apartment blocks opens a very different view of Moscow than what you get from main streets. Back to the subject of food and shopping and Moscow prices. R930 (the cost of what you see above) was $32 at today’s rate. Rouble tends to go up a few days before elections to remind voters that Mr. Putin did a great job. And we are electing him on March the 4th.

A few observations to share.Tofu quality tends to corelate with weather. The WP spellchecker tells me that “corelate” has to r’s. But with “co” being the prefix where does this second “r” come from? Let’s keep it my way. As to tofu, buy it when the temperature is not into Asian extremes. The Vietnamese kilogram is noticeably more than the Russian one. Peanuts at 70R for a 0.5kg bag (just over $2/lb) are among the freshest to be found in Moscow. Mash sprouts at R40/kg are absolutely best and by far the cheapest. Also note sesame seed oil at R90 ($3) per bottle. Same stuff but more dated sells at “better” Moscow stores for 4-5 times as much. But tomatoes and cucumbers are nothing to get excited about. Fresh but bland stuff from unidentified source, usually Turkey. In the winter, when the whole of Russia relies from imports from south, you may as well buy from them. Otherwise look for local sources. I tend to buy from an Uzbek seller who’s been doing it for years and who just points to the “correct” product.

Today I was given a receipt. In Vietnamese. Fun and authentic. Here it is, with my attempt to decipher it..

Tried twice the cheaper couscous imported from Israel. The one from the Kosher store at Trifonovskaya 45 (M. Prospekt Mira or Rizhskaya) and found it equal to the more expensive stuff from Indian Spices (TRS from Southhall, Middlesex, England) and even more expensive Platinum brand (packaged in Petrozavodsk, Karelia) sold in “better” stores in Moscow and other places that are doing well economically..

Keep it soaking in hot water for longer than indicated in instructions! Pre-heat the bowl! I like putting it on top of a pot with hot water. Put purple salad onions in first and heat them with salt (sea salt only!) and a bit of oil (olive or sesame). If you take care to keep the bowl warm you can add as much of whatever you like. Herbs, tomatoes, and cucumbers, or just about anything I can think of, combines well with couscous.  Turmeric improves the taste and gives the final a saturated yellow colour. When nearly cool mix it to prevent it from sticking. Good hot or cold.


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