National Geographic : 1966 Mar
An American in Russia's Capital features of Russian life-the queue. In this case there were two queues, operating on a pay-before-you-see -the-food basis. After 10 or 15 minutes of waiting, I got close enough to read the menu posted on the cashier's cage. The menus were almost illeg ible and difficult to translate, even though I knew Russian. Several words meant stew; chopped meat had countless names. Upon arriving at the head of the line, I faced the impossible task of deciphering the menu, translating it, and making a choice all in a few seconds. If I dallied, the cashier would start shouting at me. As I sounded off each item, the cashier would punch the cash register, which simply recorded the sale. She added up the total on an abacus (the standard device for adding in Russia). She then handed me the cash register tape in return for my kopecks (cents). I now had the privilege of moving to the second queue and waiting another ten minutes or so before getting to the serving counters. At the first counter I presented one of my receipts to the girl, who reached into a trough, threw some mashed potatoes on a plate, and then plopped a bit of stew on top. At the next counter I got my borsch, served in a shallow bowl filled to the brim; I carried it delicately lest it spill on my clothes. (This would have been a catastrophe, because of the poor dry-cleaning facilities in Moscow.) The serving of bread occupied the full-time attention of still another girl, since it was not sold by the slice, but by the gram. The bread girl carefully weighed each piece, adding a bit here or cutting off a bit there, so no one would get slightly more or less than his two kopecks' worth. There was one other feature of the student Early tsars ruled and reveled in the throne room of the Kremlin's Hall of Facets. Be neath the arched ceiling at Christmas, 1553, Ivan the Terrible feted the first Englishmen to visit Russia. Allegorical frescoes glorify the power and the wisdom of the tsars. Hoard of riches amassed by Russian rulers -gilded presentation pieces, crown jewels, golden carriages and sleighs, and diamond studded robes-awe visitors to the Hall of Arms in the Kremlin. Stalin barred citizens from admission during his rule; not until 1955 could they tour the citadel. cafeteria that I will never forget-the com plete lack of knives. Either I had to pick up my meat with a fork and bite off a chunk at a time, as most of the Russians did, or pain fully pry the meat into pieces with the edge of a spoon. Students Live on $40 a-Month The only virtue of the student cafeteria was its cheapness. I usually spent from 50 cents to 80 cents for dinner, never as much as a dollar. Cheapness, of course, is important for stu dents who have to live on scholarships of $40 a month. Fortunately for me, there were two other eating places at the university. The pro fessors' dining room (open to all) and the die tetic dining room both had better food, with table service, at somewhat higher prices about $1.00 for an average dinner. Of course, there were several good restau rants downtown. Among my favorites were EKTACHROME(BELOW) AND KODACHROMEBY DEAN CONGER© N.G.S.