Russians approach a smorgasbord like a small boy whose parents are not paying attention. They pile their plates high with food, far more than they possibly can eat. Sometimes two plates, one in each hand. Perhaps a legacy of food shortages in the Soviet era, or a persistent ancestral memory of hunger.
The hotel where I stayed in Murmansk offered a buffet breakfast, heavy on protein, eggs and cheese and meat. Cold, flat, fatty strips of bacon that were eaten, tidily, with knife and fork. Lots of bread and pastry. Not much fruit, at least not in March, when winter still gripped this northern city and it snowed every day, sometimes at blizzard intensity.
My Russian-born father, who survived the famine in Berlin after World War I and had seen people starving to death in the streets, could not bear to see food wasted. I wondered what he would have thought of the towering piles of food that remained uneaten on every table, which seemed to surprise no one but me.
Bio: ANN MINTZ; Ann Mintz has had six careers, five dogs, one husband, and has lived in seven cities, if you count Philadelphia twice. She has written radio scripts, text for museum exhibits, websites, speeches, grant proposals, numerous articles and one book. She blogs at 6S, T-10 and Pen Ten.