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Open Thread: Nutria & Witte

beer-and-books

I was privileged to meet one of the columnists at The Unz Review. Feel free to guess who.

Ironically, we met up at Jean-Jacques cafe on Nikitsky Boulevard, the favorite watering hole of the rukopozhatnaya kreakl crowd (handshake-worthy/”respectable” “creative” hipsters). It’s a solid enough place, though – slightly pretentious French style lunch with wine for 1,000 rubles.

Finally got Twenty Years to the Great War, a massive tome on the late Tsarist industrialization by HSE professor Mikhail Davydov.

A taste of some of what it covers in the intro to an an interview with the author:

The development of Magnitogorsk? Planned by the State Council of the Russian Empire in 1915. The irrigation of Central Asia? Started in 1901, by 1912 there were working excavators… About the poverty of the people: In 1906-1913 credit cooperatives gave farmers loans totalling 2.5 billion rubles (equivalent to six naval modernization programs). In 1913, 30% of families in the country possessed savings books.

People lived considerably better than Soviet propaganda would later claim, and in fact many of the big “signature” Soviet modernization projects were first planned out and initiated in the waning days of the Empire (even including electrification).

But there’s really a lot more to it. One thousand pages, many of which are devoted to statistical tables. Looking forwards to reading it and reviewing it properly.

moscow-decoration

A mundane example of how Moscow has really been spruced up in the past couple of years.

Some more culinary notes, since we haven’t had those for a while:

nutria-burger

At around the time of the New Year, I tried out a nutria burger at the Krasnodar Bistro, thanks to a “recommendation” of sorts from The Guardian’s Shaun Walker (“Hot rat is so hot right now: Moscow falls for the rodent burger“).

It was entirely fine, a bit similar in texture to a beef patty, but with a distinctive flavor and a greasier texture. Not perhaps the best meat, but still, 2033 should be perfectly survivable.

The more relevant and encouraging sociological observation is that its one example of many in which Russia is developing its own culinary traditions as opposed to aping from abroad (nutria is particular to Russia’s Krasnodar region).

likuria-wine

Thanks to JL for the Likuria recommendation – I got a set of them. I thought the Blend and the Merlot were pretty good, but the Cabernet Sauvignon disappointed, and the Shiraz was very bad.

The Agora bastardo from Crimea remains my favorite dry Russian red, but frankly none of them are anything to write home about. For now at least its better to just get the European imports.

That said, the Abrau Durso champagnes, with the partial exception of their bruts, are surprisingly good and continue to gain on me.

I enjoyed Ararat cognac from Armenia, the standard product in this class here, but I am not a conoisseur of cognac, so my opinion isn’t worth much.

I am not exactly a big cheese fan, I don’t even buy it normally, but I do like to make Greek salad from time to time, and that means feta. I suspect it is directly on the sanctions list because I haven’t been able to find it in the usual supermarkets (though I haven’t bothered searching). The alternative here is a thing called bryndza, but it is most decidedly not feta; the Serbian bryndza I bought first is far closer to cheap standard cream cheeses. That said, the “classical” version is the one that’s at least very faintly reminscent of feta.

kharcho

As I explained in one of my earlier open threads, in my opinion Georgian cuisine is overrated (it’s only particularly interesting or “exotic” by Soviet standards).

That said, the one exception to that assessment – and its a real bigly one – is kharcho.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Moscow, Open Thread, Russia, The AK, Travel 
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  1. I look forward to the review of Davydov’s book, though I shan’t have time to read the book itself. But I enjoy Lieven’s (much shorter) book on Nicholas II. The parts about economic development were the most interesting to me. I think both Witte and Stolypin get a chapter each.

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  2. The development of Magnitogorsk

    Magnitogorsk (“magnetic mountain town”) has one of the coolest coats of arms/city flags ever:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnitogorsk

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  3. Will have to agree to disagree on the Georgian cuisine. Though i think it’s simultaneously understood and oversold. They’ll go on about khatchapuris and khinkali all the time (ok, but a bit boring), but not mention their soups and stews, which resemble curries. Kharcho is, indeed very good, as it’s adjpasandi, chakhochbili, chakapuli etc. Their tonis puri bread is like a cross between a naan and a baguette, is very good fresh, but goes stale in hours.

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  4. Before 2002, when the name Feta became a “protected designation of origin”, most of the Feta came from Denmark or the Netherlands. Even in Greece it was widely available.
    Personally I wouldn’t bother about the origin of this simple cheese.

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  5. I’m not sure if this quote is taken out of context or not:

    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/brother-ukraine-is-fighting-for-its-independence-lukashenko-56954

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that “fraternal Ukraine” is fighting for its independence at a meeting with scientists and science teachers, the BELTA news agency reported.

    “We got our independence cheaply; all the nations fought,” Lukashenko said.

    “Right now fraternal Ukraine is fighting for its independence. We cannot afford to fight. We are a peace-loving people.”

    The president clarified that he believes Belarus’ struggle is not military or political, but rather economic.

    Recently it was reported that Russia plans to reduce oil supplies to Belarus by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The cut is believed to be related to a debt dispute between the two countries. 

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    He verbally supported the Ukraine against Novorossiya all through the Donbass War. For a very simple reason: Russian irridentism is a potential threat to him too.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Yet another testament to the long-term bankruptcy of Soviet style "friendship of peoples" policy.
  6. @AP
    I'm not sure if this quote is taken out of context or not:

    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/brother-ukraine-is-fighting-for-its-independence-lukashenko-56954

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that "fraternal Ukraine" is fighting for its independence at a meeting with scientists and science teachers, the BELTA news agency reported.

    "We got our independence cheaply; all the nations fought," Lukashenko said.

    "Right now fraternal Ukraine is fighting for its independence. We cannot afford to fight. We are a peace-loving people."

    The president clarified that he believes Belarus' struggle is not military or political, but rather economic.

    Recently it was reported that Russia plans to reduce oil supplies to Belarus by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The cut is believed to be related to a debt dispute between the two countries. 

    He verbally supported the Ukraine against Novorossiya all through the Donbass War. For a very simple reason: Russian irridentism is a potential threat to him too.

    Read More
  7. @AP
    I'm not sure if this quote is taken out of context or not:

    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/brother-ukraine-is-fighting-for-its-independence-lukashenko-56954

    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that "fraternal Ukraine" is fighting for its independence at a meeting with scientists and science teachers, the BELTA news agency reported.

    "We got our independence cheaply; all the nations fought," Lukashenko said.

    "Right now fraternal Ukraine is fighting for its independence. We cannot afford to fight. We are a peace-loving people."

    The president clarified that he believes Belarus' struggle is not military or political, but rather economic.

    Recently it was reported that Russia plans to reduce oil supplies to Belarus by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The cut is believed to be related to a debt dispute between the two countries. 

    Yet another testament to the long-term bankruptcy of Soviet style “friendship of peoples” policy.

    Read More
  8. Amazing, nutria are considered pests in my neck of the woods, the government offers bounties for dead nutria

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  9. I’m glad you got a chance to try the Likuria line, though your set is lacking in the reserve, which is the best, but also the hardest to find. Lefkadia is their better, higher end stuff, also with a whole line, most of which I haven’t tried. As I noted, the price-to-quality ratio isn’t quite what it should be, and, like you say, it makes more sense to just drink European imports. However, it’s nice to know that the Russians can make at least drinkable wine and we try and support domestic industry/import substitution to the extent that we can.

    Speaking of cheese, that really is the one area where the counter sanctions bite. Domestic producers make some decent soft cheeses (incidentally, Lefkadia makes the best Russian-produced Camembert, you can find it cheaply at Auchan), but when it comes to specialty cheeses like parmesan and feta, forget about it.

    Moscow has really been spruced up in the past couple of years

    Medvedev’s presidency may have been an overwhelming non-event, but was well worth it just for getting rid of Luzhkov alone.

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  10. Anatoly, Putin is right now visiting Hungary, and in the Hungarian liberal press there’s much noise about the conspiracy theories regarding the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia. To be honest, a few things do sound fishy here. Here’s a list of the few controversies which need to be explained, and while some of them seem easy to explain, some (like the Ryazan incident or Seleznyov’s remarks are more difficult to do so. (By the way why is the name Seleznyov transliterated to English with an “o”, but Gorbachev with an “e”?)

    So, my question is, what is your take of these incidents? Perhaps I didn’t try too hard, but couldn’t find a post written by you specifically on the subject. Any of the commenters would be welcome to provide an explanation for those incidents. To be honest, I couldn’t really jump into Hungarian comment threads, because I didn’t find my own arguments convincing enough. So I’d need some convincing arguments, one that could convince those who already believe in the FSB conspiracy theory (or at least make them a bit less sure).

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  11. […] with Others, Even the State, Problematic, Sociologist Says. 30. The Unz Review: Anatoly Karlin, Nutria & Witte. 31. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Top security official gives wide-ranging interview. (Russian Security […]

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  12. Sir,don’t be offended but you misused the term “bigly”. Its not an adjective,its an adverb. You could have used the word “big” in that sentence. “Bigly” denotes how something is done. “The vendors hot dogs were big.We bought 5 each. We loaded up on them bigly.”

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  13. Finally got Twenty Years to the Great War, a massive tome on the late Tsarist industrialization by HSE professor Mikhail Davydov.

    A taste of some of what it covers in the intro to an an interview with the author:

    The development of Magnitogorsk? Planned by the State Council of the Russian Empire in 1915. The irrigation of Central Asia? Started in 1901, by 1912 there were working excavators… About the poverty of the people: In 1906-1913 credit cooperatives gave farmers loans totalling 2.5 billion rubles (equivalent to six naval modernization programs). In 1913, 30% of families in the country possessed savings books.

    During a discussion at Dr. Thompson’s blog,

    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/county-iqs-and-their-consequences/#comment-1756567

    (it’s in moderation as I post)

    I came across this article that may interest you:

    http://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/Nafziger_Lindert_RussianInequality.pdf

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  14. @Anatoly Karlin
    Yet another testament to the long-term bankruptcy of Soviet style "friendship of peoples" policy.

    Testament or testimony? Whose? :-)

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  15. An odd menu. Nutria con Witte. Chile con carne.

    Exactly what was the irony of hanging out at Jean Jacques? What did I miss?

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