Late evening. Supermarket. A man, who apparently has been watching my painfully long torments in front of the bread rack, says “Seems like you’re a pro. Next time I choose bread, I’d like to receive your consultancy.”
For the first fifteen seconds I just stand there and giggle with the sliced bran loaf “Hercules” in my hands (the choice was not final!), trying to overcome the awkwardness. I should say so! Just imagine: Moscow. A man suddenly starts talking to you in a shop (take note: offline). About bread! Bread, Carl!…
So a minute later, I find myself vividly describing all of my bread issues to this poor guy. Regarding those, in fact, is the topic of my speech.
To say that there is a huge selection of bread in Moscow shops means to say nothing. It is unimaginably and unjustifiably huge! I’ve been in the supermarkets of other countries – European, Scandinavian, Turkish, Central Asian – nowhere, nowhere have I met so many variations of the notorious long loaf, so many kinds of rye bread, so many types of croissants and shades of flour …
By the way, speaking of croissants, one of my French mates said to me once that croissants with cheese (bacon or another meat – even more) is the wildest perversion ever, and that in fact they are meant solely for sweet pastries.
Getting back to Moscow and the Russian bread topic… Apart from the fact that the bread selection is really huge (just to clarify, even in the small grocery store you will find at least three four-shelved racks filled with bread), it is also treacherously unstable. Should you just find the bread you’re satisfied with (I know, that sounds weird), they stop producing or importing it. Just yesterday, you saw it, and today you don’t. And you won’t tomorrow. Please, start to explore all the dozens of labels to find the right combination once more.
I should mention that before I moved to Moscow and explored all the bread diversity, I haven’t ever faced such issues. In Almaty, there were only two types of bread – round black and white brick. That’s all.
Specifically these two basic bread types are generally not available in Moscow’s grocery stores. Why would they be? That would be too easy. “If it’s just a brick, let’s at least make it with corn flour and add some seeds,” bakers think.
Seeds in the bread – that’s a separate story… It’s a real challenge to find an example without any seeds. If not sunflower seeds, then pumpkin seeds, if not pumpkin, then flax, if not flax, then sesame, if not sesame, then plantain. The seeds of plantains, guys, I’m not kidding!
“8 cereals” bread, fitness bread, buckwheat bread, rye, wheat, corn, hearth, bread on sourdough, yeast and unleavened, peasant, German, Ukrainian, sliced and solid, bread with carrots, raisins, poppy seeds, figs (that one is nothing but a bready kitsch!), oat flakes, garlic … Name any additives – this bread is sold in Moscow, almost guaranteed. The prices in urban supermarkets and bakeries range from about 18 to 300 rubles per loaf.
In trusting the data of the specialized website “Tsenomer”, the average price for bread in Moscow is now 28 rubles. At the same time, according to the Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev, by spring it can increase by 20% due to the rise in prices from producers of agricultural products and food products. In this case, a long loaf (apparently, the most popular type of bread in Russia), will cost about 30 rubles against the current 22-25.
Frankly, I’m a little envious of the long loaf fans… In Moscow, it’s always (no matter what happens) commercially available. If I am not mistaken, it is the only bread, which consists from nothing else but… bread. So you don’t even have to read the label every time, expecting that the manufacturer slipped something into it again. As it turns out, a long loaf is kind of symbol of stability in the country.
On the other hand, to hell with stability! Give me adventure. So today, not having found my favorite bread from second grade flour and with bran, I made my choice at Borodinsky. This choice in fact, I described in detail to the poor supermarket guy while he walked me home.
By the way, to my memory – it’s not the first time bread became an occasion for acquaintance. Weird, weird Moscow…