It’s not the rostbif and svinina (“roast beef” and “pork”) that caught my eye. They’ve long been part of the great and mighty Russian language.
What caught me eye was the word ban (bun). Why were “Russia’s Jamie Oliver” (not my coinage) and Co. unable to condescend to the perfectly Russian, extremely ordinary, and utterly comprehensible word bulochka (“bun”) when writing up the menu?
Because that would have sounded too common. For €6.77 a pop Mnatsakanov’s diners expect something “fancier” (as Mum would have put it) than a plain old bulochka their babushkas could have baked for them out of the kindness of their lonely hearts.
Mnatskanov’s customers don’t want kindness. They want conspicuous consumption. And they want it labeled, at least partly, in English, even if that English is as supremely common and humble as “bun” (ban). TRR
[At Kuzyna House on New Holland] Asian, European, Mediterranean, and even South Americans are combined in the simple food [sic] tradition. For example, starters include burrata with honey, persimmon, and truffle oil (780 rubles), and the main courses include poached salmon with a champagne and caviar cream sauce (990 rubles), marinated Korean barbecue ribs (750 rubles), and grilled chicken with green salsa (620 rubles).
The intellectual cluster [sic] A Beautiful Mind was conceived by psychotherapist Andrei Kurpatov, famous for his TV show on Channel One. Alexei Yermakov (El Copitas) is in charge of the kitchen.
Forget about Mikhail Kosenko, the “prisoners of May 6,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and other inmates in the country’s wretched penitentiary system, the demolition of the country’s welfare system, the devastating floods in the Far East, the destruction of Russia’s cultural and research institutes, the gutting of labor rights, the demonization of migrant workers, and all that. What really matters to the country’s most progressive class and the handsomely remunerated foreign observers who keenly catalogue its whimsical traipsings atop the corpses and prone bodies of fellow countrymen is the meatball wrap.