Monday, July 11, 2005 10:32:18 PM
I swear, Moscow right now has more than a little bit of Wild West / Las Vegas flavor. The economy is absolutely wild. Officially I think it is "stagnant", but this must be due to the manufacturing sector. The streets are busy, the markets are busy, street musicians are busy, stores are busy.
I go out to find a particular restaurant. I don't find it, and walk too far. I can't find the restaurant in the crowd of strange business signs, street stalls and vendors. The babushkas (grandmothers) can be seen in the street vendors sometimes. As I'm walking I go through an underpass, and on the other side, next to the train station, are a group of babushkas selling produce and some other things. I would think they've grown this stuff themselves in their garden areas. One is holding two large plastic cups full of raspberries. I think she picked the raspberries herself - her hands were all purple with stains! This lady was with another babushka - and I swear, I could have seen their like in Santa Cruz or Ft. Lauderdale. They were that universal in their dress. One in pants, with a green cloth floppy hat - the crush type hikers tend to like. Could have come from REI. The other in a long dress, but still dressed like a gardener. I can't understand the numbers they say, so I just show them some rubles. They point to the fifty as reasonable for their raspberry container, so I get both that they have. They are in plastic cups the size of beer cups at the football game. I probably paid them more than they were expecting, but it was still cheaper than the stalls, and the stalls are cheaper than the berries in Watsonville, which are cheaper than the in rest of the US. Huh, a good deal, I guess!
Yup, I think it was a good deal, but it wouldn't have been if the berries were no good. But, when I eat them I know I had nothing to fear - these raspberries have an intense flavor - much better than any others I have tasted this year. This has been a berry good year. (Cough, cough, huh!) It really has been a rich year for berries. When I left Aromas we had been picking the nicest blackberries I have had in so many years - since I was last picking blackberries in Oregon, what, in the early 70's? Anyway, they were absolutely ambrosiac, and I know they weren't even among the best of years for blackberries. But they were soooooo good. Now, I am in Russia, eating fantastic raspberries. And I don't recall ever liking raspberries so much. The blackberries here are small, and only good, not great. But the raspberries! Whoooaa! They have other berries I haven't even tried yet - a couple of kinds of blueberries, and some types of smaller berries, perhaps they are currants.