Commercials and Квас

September 17, 2011

Commercials on Russian television are quite telling of important traditions or feelings in Russian culture. For example, tea commercials are absolute staples and are masterpieces – I feel genuinely relaxed after having seen one. A bank commercial I recently saw involved the Russian writer Gogol and a fellow soldier standing in some barracks, when the friend answered the phone. The message was supposed to be along the lines of how much easier it is to communicate or bank than it was 300 years ago… I have yet to see an American commercial that invokes a famous American writer – Russia’s literary heritage is a huge element of national pride, and the average Russian is much more familiar with the lives and works of their national greats.

Speaking of literary heritage, today I headed off to the Mayakovsky museum with some of the other students on the program. (Vladimir Mayakovsky, Soviet poet, Stalin’s number one) It was so well designed, and truly showed the progression of Mayakovsky’s life instead of just told about it, and communicated his literary ideas and the ideas of the other Futurists. A museum that is a work of art in and of itself!

And since I’ve been here for almost three weeks, my foody family and friends are surely dying to hear about Russian cuisine! I officially tried Russian квас, a very mildly alcoholic beverage that I found to resemble a mix of seltzer, fruit juice, and beer. I was not a big fan, but I’ve been told that квас grows on you the more of it you drink. We’ll see if I try it again, though. Пироги are lovely bready pockets, filled most often with cabbage, but the ones filled with a spinach mixture are my favorite. True to form, tea is the beverage of choice at every single meal, and even at my soccer practices the other girls drink sparkling water or even seltzer-y type juices instead of flat water. I’ve decided to maintain my thoroughly American habit of carrying a water bottle around (albeit hidden in my bag) and drinking water without bubbles at soccer practice. Being dehydrated is not worth fitting in on this one.

I also did laundry for the first time last night, which made real more than anything else the fact that I live here, and will be here for a long time. If this isn’t just a vacation, does that mean I need to do my homework?

Until I’ve finished another couple chapters of Master and Margarita in Russian,

Hillary

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