The Food – My Survival Guide

Generally there is rather a lot to be said on the subject here at the A.A. Maximov, lot of comments and jokes – we know it couldn’t be any further from a Michelin Star. I’ve been here for three weeks now, eating it – but what I do think of it?

Well it’s ‘cultural’ certainly! Bar the odd questionable piece, but for me it’s been fine, with some help I have got used to it, I no longer dread what’s coming through the door, but see it as a challenge. I love my food, I like to cook and feel that anything boring & bland is offensive. So before I came to Moscow, I heard a lot – I saw a lot. I came prepared.

I’ve got to say in fairness to the hospital, they do very well, they do bring you a LOT of food and has always come when they said it would. Clearly they’re wanting to give you all the nutrients you need to compliment your treatment, but sadly not much else.

Four meals a day can be difficult at times too, especially when you’ve struggled to stomach the previous unknown. Meals are – 9am, 12pm, 2pm and 6pm.

Anyway. How have I managed? My advice is combination, and home comfort sauces too. I’ve eaten pretty happily. Really!

sauces
The boys!

I brought some provisions that have really helped. Of course we all like like different things. Me – hot sauces, others prefer ketchup and salad cream perhaps. But for me it was worth bringing very different flavours. Caribbean, ever faithful Tabasco, Mexican and Indian. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting exactly the same to someone else. But swap those with Barbecue Sauce, a resealable tomato ragu, Teriyaki or a bottle of light garlic sauce – for mash? You’re half way there, and isolation safe too.

I’ll add [NUKE] to certain pieces below to suggest that if you’re in isolation, remember to blast in the microwave after preparation to help kill off any possibles. ‘Nuke’ probably not the best word to use when in Russia, but seems appropriate given what we’re up to here.

Breakfast – 9am
The first day I made the mistake of slapping a load of sugar into my porridge, I love the oats so adding a bit of the sweet stuff normally goes down well. Except beware! Lot of SALT!! For reasons unknown I guess the locals like it this way – so that ruined breakfast was a party in my mouth if you like.

Salty porridge – big spoon, get it down you, side coffee needed!

Small pot of yoghurt, it’s got a smiling kid on it. Nope it’s horrible, no fruit – but three spoonfuls and it’s gone. Get it down, get on with your day. 😉

choco_powder_9ozWhite / Milky bowl of stuff (tapioca?). Sandy before she left to go home, left me her chocolate Nesquik. Absolute genius!!! Fixes this one bowl of bland right up a treat [NUKE], add it to your coffee also – bit of a Mocca, it helps break up the day. (Thank you Sandy! x)

Often breakfast comes with a plum tea sort of thing, could be wrong not really sure what it is. But it’s drinkable, can add sugar but I found it fine to just down in a couple of glug’s alongside your coffee. Coffee granules of your own bringing that is, they give plenty of local tea. I love the Yorkshire Tea (UK) from back home, so these Russian efforts barely interested me. I’ve got a drawer full of them here – they won’t be coming home!

And if you get any cheese, save it!!…

Second Breakfast – 12pm
I think this one is normally your bit of protein. It’s likely to be a cold boiled egg, a cold hunk of beef, with a couple of pieces of bread. I love this one, drove me nuts thinking about it at first. Stone cold (uncured) Beef? What am I going to do with that?

egg_bread
Easy.

…Just so you know, surprisingly I never did manage to get that job at the local kebab shop taking pictures of their food.

My first day or two was no problem with the egg  – bread, butter, cut egg over the top, salt, bit of Tabasco.[NUKE] Nice!

But then I quickly realised the potential in the cold beef and cheese!!!! Bread, butter, slab of beef, cheese on top, few squirts of tabasco [NUKE]. Winner – melted cheese, bit of beef – that’s honestly some good eating right there!!

 

Lunch – 2pm
Naturally this one various very much day to day. It often has a soup starter, and if you’ve still got your beef, drop it in there and [NUKE]. It’s not a bad piece of meat either so it reasonably softens up inside and soaks up the soup well. The soups for me haven’t been bad, made from scratch I think, bit of stock and vegetables. It’s not what you’d choose to eat if you were out, but they can be quite nice and textured too. Adding the beef, I’ve not needed to do much with these, sauce/salt do help sometimes. [NUKE]

I’ve had the pasta and liver stroganoff, at least that was my assumption. Of course there are many more meals and are for the moment totally escaping me. But I believe in the dip test, check the taste, then from your sauces – think up which one would add best and you won’t go hungry.

buckwheat
Closest thing to a curry!

The lunch I received today can be bit of a head-scratcher, it’s cold (boiled) buckwheat and a beef sauce on the side of that. Eaten as it is really could make you wonder if this is all even worth it? But this one is one is actually one my favourites. Add a bit of the Indian style sauce I brought [NUKE], mix it up and suddenly I’ve got a meal elevated to that of a supermarket curry. …and curries are my favourite!


Dinner – 6pm
Tonight was one of their staples, (watch for the bones) Fish and mash!

mash2
Mix it in there.

Not much to say about this one sadly, fork your favourite flavouring into the mash, put some on the fish too [NUKE].

Again like their lunches, they do reasonably vary them. So just be ready with what you’ve got to make it interesting.

Last night’s however was beyond effort. I hadn’t a clue, what it was? It came in the size of of a ‘small bowl of rice’, yellow and totally lacking of any moisture, it must just been semolina come to think of it, my fork stood pretty firmly within. And that was it, nothing on the side. No helping us here, I think I just necked it, felt punished, and then raided my fridge for chocolate. Equally, I’ve been given Porridge for dinner too – that’s not dinner!? …see my update at the foot of the page.

Sometimes it’s just a bit too Russian.

tema

 

This one, I was about to open once, thinking I was about to enjoy a yogurt of some sort. Nope it’s tinned baby food – beef. Of course it is, you know that whole connection of babies in blue bear masks and cow meat.

Interestingly one of the Nurse’s here said that she wouldn’t even give it to her cat. Say’s it all.

And then there is the Pièce De Résistance…

ox_tongue

Vache tongue et une pomme bouillie.

It’s a sight to behold when you’re presented with it, and never fails to conjure all sorts of emotions when revealed. Now I already fear the levels of pretentiousness of me saying slap sauce on this, slap sauce on that and telling many how to suck eggs. But it in all honestly, for me it’s really worked and do feel like I have eaten well here in Russia using some of my favourite sauces. I’ve not gone hungry. Except of course, when the Ox Tongue has been presented to me. I just can’t do it.

Having said that, the above is the cooked/grilled version. On my second day I was greeted with a cold, rubbery alternative. Complete with the rough dimpled top layer of the tongue you’d expect to see, and a unique silky texture that your teeth just sink into.

I would have wished for a little grilling, it would have at least hidden the barbed wire licking that cow must have loved doing.

How would Sir like his Tongue cooked?


**Update**

I’ve been asked very nicely to keep the swears away from my blog. I’ve done well, but FFS – I’ve just been given a small bowl of Porridge for my tea! 

Together with the earlier delivery of Ox Tongue for my lunch – which I was going to ‘sleight of hand’ somewhere. Such a menu today feel’s like I’ve upset someone and I’m now being punished!

Though for some inspired reason, I just had the feeling like I needed to keep this tongue. I’m now so pleased I did! …FFS Porridge!?!

Challenge time!!
So, other than the sloppy gelatinous version I ate for the sake of the video above. I have otherwise managed to avoid the Ox Tongue, it’s not a part of the animal I feel I need to try. But tonight I’m going to. But we’ve got to make this work, or I’m going hungry for the first time in Russia yet.

tongue_curry1
It’s mash and it’s tongue.

Okay, what have I got in my larder to help the situation? I rummage through to see what’s likely for others in my position too? We have biscuits, sugar and tea. Hmmm, sorry to those others – but you’re on your own!

I’ll have to bring on the boys, namely Mr Singh! I could go Mexican or Tabasco, but I fear that we’d just be killing it with over flavouring. We’re going to do this properly! I just hope eating Cow in a curry isn’t considered sacrilegious. I didn’t ponder about that for too long – I’m on a mission.

Separating the mash, mixing in the Mr Singh Hot Punjabi sauce in the hope to make a desperate Bombay Potato. It really wasn’t, it was Punabi Mash, but that’s now the side sorted and delicately placed!

Now for the Tongue itself I chose to slice it into strips, rub it in Mr Punjab’s finest, lay those strips across my ‘Bombay Potato’, drizzle the Juz (Punjab again) across the layers. En Voila!!

tongue_curry2
I’m almost a little bit proud of that


So how was it?
Shit! The ‘Bombay Potato’ wasn’t fooling anyone, it was after all indian flavoured mash. But given the situation the mash was certainly easy to eat.

The Tongue. Yeah there’s a very good reason why no one eats it. It’s an awful part of the animal, considering it’s their most used muscle it should be tender and beautiful. No it’s not, most certainly not! The flavouring for the tongue, fantastic – Mr Punjab has not let us down here at all – take a bow son!

But the meat… think of the worst Doner Kebab you’ve ever wished you didn’t. Hitting those occasional pieces of meat that have clearly been lingering over the gas heaters too long, tough and dry. Then you get ‘lucky’ and you’ve hit a softer, juicer bit, nope it’s the gristly bit that the abattoir’s machine decided not to take out. Then you just keep chewing until that absolutely pointless bit of meat has escaped to the back of your mouth without any noticeable gag reflex.

There you have it. No one can say I didn’t come to Moscow and didn’t try the Ox Tongue. I’ve tried it – three bloody ways!! I have to say my way was the best (Thank you again Mr Singh).

Final thought and conclusion to my efforts.
I’m not going to bed hungry, that is all.

10 thoughts on “The Food – My Survival Guide

    1. Brilliant. I’m so pleased to hear you’ll be here soon! Tricky, because I’ve managed to eat most of what’s given to me, personally snacking hasn’t been a issue. Though I know others have needed to.

      So dry stuff! I believe is what I’ve been told. Fruits, nuts, noodle soups anything to rehydrate and then blast in the microwave for safety. I even saw someone with hiker/mountaineering dry food mix that seemed to really help them along too. Not really knowing veggie, it sounds like you’ll do well some creative dry stuff to make as your own. …chocolate is still good too. 😉

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    1. It IS all part of the experience! …And I am doing my best to embrace. But I am really looking forward to the usuals on my return. I’m dead pleased you’re enjoying my thoughts/rants/escapism. 😉 x

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  1. Tom sedita

    I had the ox tongue once after I told them I only would eat chicken or fish .The steroids make it a little easyier to eat the food there I don’t care for the brown small slice of brown bread

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rebecca

    That was worth waiting for all in one blog post!! Much more exciting than a post about uk hospital food would have been. I worked in a hospital while at uni and ate leftover meals sometimes – but would never touch the mousse diet (puréed roast dinner is wrong)!
    I can imagine that you have every meal upon your return already planned out.
    Anyway, hope they spare you any more tongue! I’m looking forward to kitty duty at the weekend – Shankly isn’t scared of me anymore x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you! Awww liquid roast!? …I guess it must have been necessary for some poor sod. I am thinking of lovely home food and looking forward not to have intervene them in any way too. Hopefully that’s the last of the tongue now – who knows! Thanks again so much, he’s not scared – just very picky – consider yourself honoured! X

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  3. I will be coming in June and I wonder if they will help out if you have food intolerances such as gluten and milk protein, sugar? I can eat ox tongue . but not bread, cream sauces and sugary yogurt 🙂

    Great Blog! Has been incredibly helpful and inspiring. Can’t wait to get there! Thanks mate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliant!! I’m so pleased that my blog has helped you! You’ve got every reason to look forward to coming, I’m very pleased to say. Food however, isn’t the most palatable. There IS a lot of bread, some creamed soups, and natural yoghurt which I would never say was sweet. I don’t what provisions they do? But I would just bring plenty of what you like with you, sauces and flavourings etc. For isolation and extra food, I would suggest packet dry stuff that you rehydrate and blast in the microwave – everything must go through the machine to help keep food and importantly YOU safe. …just bring lots of what you like!! Alex

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