Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Care Package from the USA: Bane or Blessing?

So what can we bring you when we come back for the boys?

I was talking with a neat couple from southern California who were in Rostov for an adoption visit. I had helped them a bit and they wanted to show appreciation.

What do I want from the US?

Listen carefully dearly beloved, those are the golden words, the absolutely most beautiful words to the ears of any expatriate. And the answer was easy. Really, really easy.

I want file folders. I need file folders. Throw in a PayDay candy bar and a magazine or two – People, Good Housekeeping, something light - right off the rack and that would do me a world of good. Especially the PayDay.

That was mid-January.

Neat Couple returned last week to get their boys and invited me to Hotel Rostov to get the goodies. Two packages of file folders and indeed, they are beau-ti-ful!

And then there was the candy. We need to talk about the candy. First, there was not one Payday in the bunch. Not to worry though. There were packages of Butterfingers, Babe Ruths, Junior Mints, 100 Grand, Reese’s peanut butter something new-fangled, Twix. Oh yum. Yummy, yum yum.

Decisions, decisions. What to do with all that candy. In the interest of health and safety, I decided to sample one of each for quality assurance. Hard to know how high altitudes and crossing of time zones might affect the goods. Fortunately – or unfortunately depending upon ones perspective – the quality was excellent. So far, so good.

Then I buckled down to work on my long-overdue newsletter, a project which brings me considerable strain and trauma. Not to mention mental anguish. It really is one of the hardest things I do. During all that I realized what comfort the Butterfingers would bring. And they were calling to me from the other end of the house. I could hear them through the plastic bags and the cabinet in which I had hidden them. It was that loud, truly. Just three of those little Butterfingers couldn’t hurt all that much. . .

Well, things went downhill from there. By the time evening came, I was in a sugar-induced stupor. Let’s make that a self-inflicted, sugar-induced stupor (SiSiS) and I needed help.

I called for intervention.

Hello? My name is Eileen. I’m a sugaraholic and I need help.

I’ll be right there.

The voice belonged to Andrey, the neighbor kid downstairs. He knew exactly what to do with all that candy. He and his buddies would handle chocolate faster than you can say sugar diabetes.

That wasn’t the first time Andrey and his family have helped me out. Thank goodness for neighbors, eh?

Hold on, hold on. Do I hear my name? It’s those pesky file folders, feeling abandoned. Oh do they smell fresh and crisp. Paper, a cellulose product, a source of roughage perhaps? Just a tiny little nibble surely couldn’t hurt anything. What a concept – fat-free file folders! (FF- FF)

Neat Couple probably will never understand how much I got into the care package they brought. Yep, absolutely devoured it.

This is my office. See how much I trust you ~ with all this information? But surely you agree that file folders would be useful to organize all this.

These are photos are of my office exactly as it is, not one little thing done to makie it tidier for this little photo shoot. As embarrassing as it is though, it's more attractive than the extra kilogram that has shown up on my bathroom scale since then.

Surely I'm not alone in this. What particular food that you have learned to stay away from? Other than Russian caviar, of course. ;)


Jeanette M said...

My downfall is Russian sour cream (smetana), ice cream (marozhene), and at the top of the list, sleevki from a country dairy in a small village called Pestrovka. It's been 10 months since I polished off the jar and cried. But I'm left with a delicious taste in my mouth each time I remember it, and five new pounds around my middle that are very happy there now.

Samara has a chocolate factory and I generally bring home enough to last a year, if I'm careful and can hide some of it from hubby. Why do I think I can hide it on my hips?

By the way, speaking of food, I understand the prices for food are skyrocketing there. Milk at the equivalent of $5.00 gallon? Really?

Eileen said...

Hey Jeanette - The sleevki is cream, right? You gobbled up a whole bottle of cream? My goodness! I would never do THAT. (hahha) But now if we were to work some chocolate in there. . . or maybe some fruit, I would find myself tempted too. Sounds like you're into dairy products, eh? I'm a milk girl myself.

You asked about the price of milk. Oh boy - a liter is like 32-37 (depending on %fat and store plus probably less with the plastic bags of milk) a carton now. You know, I hadn't ever converted it into $/gallon. Let's say 35 rubles a liter times 4 is 140 rubles. That's close to a gallon. The exchange rate is around 23.7-ish rubles to the dollar . . .and my calculator says close to 6$/gallon. Oh goodness! / And to think when I arrived here in 1999, the very same milk was 10 rubles and then the exchange rate was like 31-33 rubles/dollar. Let's see... I have 1.29$ per gallon. Fair to say price of milk has moooved way on up!

Thanks Jeanette for your note. May I ask where in California you are from, - general area. I don't think you've mentioned... and...do you have a trip planned for 2008?

Rob & Candy said...

My husband misses Fish "Pskov style". A white fish baked with cheese and potatoes! it's his favorite.
I can see you cuddling with your file folders. enjoy.

Jeanette M said...

Yes, sleevki is cream. But...it solidifies in the fridge to a soft butter-like stuff that is heaven on "black" bread. Someone said that sleevki is "sweet cream" as opposed to sour cream. It's made like sour cream, but not allowed to sour, only to thicken. I even tried to reproduce it here at home using whipping cream as the base, but it didn't turn out as good. I guess it's important to begin with unpasturized cream. My friends there say you can only find this (good) sleevki in villages or in markets where villagers have brought it to sell.

I live in Atascadero - which is on the central coast area of California, near San Luis Obispo. And yes, I'll be in Samara again from May 20 to June 14.