Russia, January 26, 1999
You ain't close to Russian until you eat ice cream in Winter!
|On the way home this afternoon, while the -8C wind blew
past me, I got the urge to participate in a strange Russian custom,
eating ice cream on the street, year around.
When I first arrived in summer I noticed that everyone ate ice cream bars at ever chance to do so. I would see people buy them just before getting on the bus or metro, as they walked down the street, and after dinner. Since it was summer, and hot, I thought it was a great idea. The ice cream is not all that exciting, with chocolate coated vanilla as the most popular type, but the quantity and price makes up for it.
As fall progressed, and the temperatures dropped, ice cream consumption did not. I was stumped for a while until I realized why the Russians ate so much ice cream. When you are on the street here, there isn't much else in the way of quick food to eat. There are kiosks selling chips and beer food, the occasional hot dog stand, and bread stores, but none have the advantages of ice cream. Ice cream is tasty, quite portable, sold everywhere, and in winter, not very messy, so its amazingly convenient.
The little freezer stands that sell ice cream usually have half the freezer devotes to frozen vegetables, or other types of food, so the vendors get a good cross section of customers. The carts are easy to move, the better to stay ahead of the militizi and the mafia, and cheap to operate. In winter you don't need to have the freezers packed with dry ice, just leave the tops open and the cold air will keep the product frozen.
Actually, all the ice cream is a bad influence on Russia and I. Russian teeth don't fare too well with all the sugar and my waistline is under attack from the milk fat. Oh well, its winter! Where is the next ice cream stand?