Monday, October 19, 2009

Local Cuisine: On a Roll, in a Dumpling

Anybody else partial to McDonald's? It's a great place to meet people. And besides that, their country-fried potatoes with cheese sauce on the side are simply yummy. Say, does your McDonald's have Caesar Wraps? Well, welcome to Russia!


In Russian, it's just called Caesar Roll. (Click image to enlarge.) It's breaded chicken with salad ingredients and dressing. Pretty good, actually. Oh, and about that green neon sign on the right. As you see, it says РИС, pronounced reese. It's the Russian word for rice and that's a little suchi restaurant. Not that I have an intention.ever.of trying that any time soon. But we digress. . .


Back to our Mickey D's billboard here, let's zoom on in. The black word in the upper left says Caesar. In Russian, it's pronounced very close to the English. But the first letter represents a sound that we don't have in English. *Ц* is pronounced ts which is so close to the English s sound to my ear. But I'm often corrected to get the t sound in there too. The Russian ear can really hear the difference. And this is the land of the Russian ear, after all.

The next consonant is *З* which is like the English letter z. And then the last major letter, the *р* makes the r sound. The little squiggle after that, much like a small b is the soft sign. And we won't even start talking about the soft sign, now will we? Nyet! ;)


Hey, while we're here in the neighborhood, just beyond this Caesar Roll sign is a major supermarket. This is where I find exotic stuff such as peanut butter and celery. Say, how about a stroll in the freezer section. Because there in the freezer section we will find a classic Russian fast food, pelmeni!

These are little dough dumplings that need only to be boiled in water. A serving might be 8 to 10 of these. Pelmeni can be filled with ground beef or potatoes or cabbage. And then there are sweet ones filled with cherries and such. As I recall, the sweet ones are called vareniki. (Now please don't make me look that up. I'm already past my look-it-up quota for the day.)



Looking down the aisle. The whole array of dumplings. Your mouth watering yet? These little pelmeni can be ho-hum. But they're easily jazzed up. Hold on, I recall a photo of jazzed up pelmeni here somewhere on this very computer. . .


Ah yes, here we go. . .

Here's a bowl of your basic ho-hum pelmeni. Usually served with a dollop of sour cream and a spring of parsley. And that works. Those garnishes - sour cream and greens - are nearly requisite here in Russia. So these are the bare bones pelmeni. But hold on, there's more. . .


Here we go. Looks like red peppers, celery and. . . oh yes. My personal chef remembered mayo - which will do in the absence of sour cream - and something green. Oh yeah!

You know, much as I like the McDonald's Caesar roll and country-style fries and meeting new people there, I can be happy as a clam with a quiet dinner of pelmeni while watching the all-news channel out of Moscow.

How about you dear blog reader? McDonald's in Russia? Pelmeni - ever make it yourself? How 'bout Russian garnishes? Want to hear about your experiences!

11 comments:

frenchrangoon said...

I went to McDonalds at least a dozen times when I lived in St. Petersburg last year. BUT, I went to sushi EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Russia is where I fell in love with sushi. And, I think you should try it! They have a lot of cooked fish dishes too! Pelmeni.... Every time I had them from the supermarket they had bones in the meat, so I stopped trying after two times. From restaurants they were pretty good - but I would never eat them with mayo. Some bad over-mayoed experiences from Russia still haunt me today.... *shudder*

Jeanette said...

I love pelmini...especially home made. One of my Russian girlfriends, Olga Starostina, makes them for me every year when I am in Samara. My preference is meat (pork/beef combo) with sour cream. I have also made them here at home. The first time was under the able guidance of my friend Tanya, visiting from Samara. After that, I've done it a couple of times alone. My husband loves them. And yes, they are so tasty, filling, and comforting. Looking at your pictures and chatting about it makes me want to whip up a batch. (haha...there is no "whipping up" - but the time and effort are worth it.)

As for McD's - yes...also eaten there while in Russia. I highly recommend their clean, totally Western-style restrooms.

Mia K. said...

Dear Eileen,
I found your blog when I was searching for an expat community in Rostov, but I could not find a single thing but your blog. I read some of your answers and found you very interesting. You see I am a Russian born living in Portland,OR and I have decided it's time to discover what my culture is all about. I will be leaving the states on December 16th and I am flying to Rostov out of all the cities. You've mentioned that you are a part of a missionary group, and that you also don't know a single American in Rostov. I was wondering if you could tell me more about the church you are attending.

Eileen said...

Hello *frenchrangoon* - okay, you've persuaded me, that I need to try suchi. Another friend LOVES it too. Hmmm. Think I'll go sometime - you went every single week? Mercy me! Next I'll need to decide Where. Several choices around, including the рис place in the photo. Pelmeni, yes - sometimes w/ *mystery meat.* A little...discerting sometimes, I agree.

Jeanette - you MADE pelmeni yourself? Oh you Are a domestic goddess. A friend here makes them and she has a neat little form - do you happen to have a form? Well it's similar to a miniature cupcake pan in that it has little wells. But they're more the pelmeni shape. Then the top surface, rather than being level, has ridges around and between the dips so that when topped w/ upper dough layer and when a rolling pin is rolled across (Yes, Madam Editor, this is getting to be a looong sentence!) it severs the dough. So.There. Do you have a form? or do you do it the cumbersome way or do you have a trick of your own? Sounds so tasty! Want to hear More!

Hello Mia, just received your note - so are you From Rostov? Or perhaps Rostov Region? Well that is so interesting. AND you'll be coming here in Dec - that's great! You asked about our congregation - it is Rostov Church of Christ and our building is on Maxim Gorky St (right in the middle of town). We're a small little happy bunch - my spiritual family, I like to say. We have people of all ages, from little ones up to 70's. We have a good number of young folks - university students and such. We'd be so pleased to have you with us when you're here. HOPING that I'll be in town Dec 16th-ish. Thing is, I need to dept like 12/8 for a visa renewal trip. If all goes well, I can be back w/in a week. So... Anyway, you can email me at #eileen.emch@gmail.com. Also I'm on facebook. Glad to help make your trip a good one. Thanks so much for saying howdy ...I mean, preevyet!

Jon D. Ayres said...

Interesting and nice blog, I'm an American from the state of Georgia who has been living and working in Moscow for the last six years and I fell in love with this city and her people. I want to add a link to your blog from my blog, American in Russia if you do not mind http://jondayres.blogspot.com/

Jeanette said...

Hi again Eileen. I make my pelmini without the form. Just using my hands. It's not difficult. You just cut little rounds of dough...about the size of a small drinking glass...from a thinly rolled piece. Keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn't dry out. Put a dab of meat in the middle and fold it over to make a half-moon. Seal the edges by pinching them together. Then you bring the two pointed edges of the half-moon around and together and pinch them. That leaves a small hole in the middle. When laid down on the flat surface (on top of waxed paper)it forms the little flying saucer shape. THis is the best I can do without a demonstration. It's a fun thing to do with a friend. The "trick" is to have a pliable dough.

Maybe SOMEDAY we will make pelmini together. Oh...they are so tasty cooked when fresh.

~~anna~~ said...

We do have McD's here in the Dominican Republic here also, but like all restaurants they have E; Presidente on the menu. El Presidente in the national beer. First time we drove by and I saw the large El Presidente banner in the window right next to the playland I burst out laughing.

We also have Taco Bell here which I prefer. But what's funny is that all Combo Meals ~no matter which one~~ also comes with an order of french fries! Mexican pizza with a soft shell taco served with French fries. Big Beef burrito served with FF! Nachos Bell Grande with French fries! I was sorta disappointed when I went to Taco Bell in the States and didn't get an order of FF.

Eileen said...

Jon, welcome to Russia. Oh, I see that you've been here a while. Oh yes, please do link to my blog - I'm flattered. Say, keep us posted about the weather up there in Moscow. That's so interesting about the mayor planning to fight off precipitation this winter...

Hey Jeanette - you Are industrious, making pelmeni from scratch and doing the whole messy rolling pin thing, cutting out and all. I'm going to have to check w/ our sister Marina, who has a pelmeni form and see if she can give me a lesson or two...one of these days...she's the only one I know who makes them from scratch. Think I'll start asking people how they do their pelmeni...obviously I've got a thing or two to learn on this.

Anna - Are you serious - beer at McDonald's? And French fries at Taco Bell? Are they similar to McD's fries? Or jazzier or...D.R. style? You know I'll have to confess Anna that I know not one thing about Dominican Republic. Please don't be offended ;) but I don't know that I could find it on a map! Goodness, we will have to rectify that situation ASAP. ;)

~~anna~~ said...

Ha!Don't feel bad~~ I had to check a map before our first trip here in 2001! :D
First find Cuba and Puerto Rico. Then look at the island in between. That is the island of Hispaniola. Haiti if the western third and the DR is the eastern two thirds!

El Presidente is sold everywhere. Even out of coolers/dispensers right next to the gas pump in some places. I doubt there's a restaurant or eating establishment that doesn't sell it.

It's weird sitting in a food court at the stores and seeing families having a meal and the adults sharing a green quart-sized bottle of El Presidente. The quart bottle is advertised as the 'family size'

But the French fries at Taco Bell? They're the best! Nothing like McD's. They are thicker and have a seasoning on them. yummmmm Now, I'm really wanting an order of them and the nearest TB is an hour away in Santo Domingo....

But your pelmeni does sound good! Esp in that 2nd picture with all the goodies on it!

Tim said...

Found a tweet of yours while searching for #rittman. Are you from Rittman? I grew up there, and I know the Emch last name very well, but I don't recognize you? Just curious?

~Tim Whims
[twhims] [@] [gmail]

Eileen said...

Hello Tim, I have to smile just imagining someone tweeting for Rittman. ;) I do have Rittman roots: From preschool age up through 5th grade we lived there before moving to Akron area. Dad's brother Don and 2nd cousin Dave both raised families in the area and, in fact, still live in the area. If you know Emches, you might also know Beerys. They're dear cousins on Mom's side of the fam. Tim, I'm guessing you have Rittman roots, yourself?