BRIC Program 2016 – And the adventure begins…
This post was written by undergraduate student, Josh Eby, who is currently abroad while participating in the BRIC Program
The first forty-eight hours were a whirlwind of activity for the BRIC 2016 cohort. From flying around the world, staying up for around thirty hours straight, eating at a traditional Russian restaurant, and getting our first taste of St. Petersburg, we’ve been getting our money’s worth in a short amount of time. However, the experience that has stuck out the most to me so far would have to be grabbing dinner with Nika, our CIEE contact.
A group of six BRICers were out getting unlocked cell phones and happened upon Tepemok, a Russian fast food chain. I got a blini with bacon, pickles, and mashed potatoes rolled inside of it. Not only was it delicious, inexpensive, and much-needed, it also gave me an insight into Russian food. Having only been in Russia for a day, I can already see that one of the backbones of the Russian diet is raw, usually pickled vegetables. Maybe this speaks to the agrarian heritage of the country, or simply the cultural taste, but it definitely provides a stark contrast to the traditional American diet. I can almost guarantee you would not find what equates to a crepe with mashed potatoes, pickles, and bacon inside of it in the United States. It is often said that one of the best peeks into a country’s culture is through its food. Even though Tepemok is fast food, I still think it offers a respectable surface-level glimpse into what Russian food is all about. Again, if we learned anything through our Encounters course and intense pre-departure programming, it’s that food makes up part of the “tip of the iceberg” of a country’s culture. It’s easy to see how this happens because food is one of the first ways people interact with any culture.
Looking ahead to the rest of our time in Russia and the rest of our trip, I hope the group will try all the different foods, but also try to dig deeper and get a better glimpse to see what these countries are all about beneath the surface level interactions.