Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Red October Chocolate Factory and Other Diversions

Friday dawned bright and early, as it tends to do here.  Moscow isn't far enough north to have White Nights like Petersburg, but it doesn't get dark until about 11:30, and then the sun rises around 4:00am.  Waking up early was not a problem, however, because we were going to a CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  Not just any chocolate factory, but the Red October Chocolate Factory, one of the oldest and most beloved of Russia.  I ran downstairs to the cafeteria for a light breakfast, because Jon had promised us that we would get lots of free samples during the tour.

Breakfast in the cafeteria has been an experience, I guess.  We (the foreign students) are usually the only ones in there at that hour, so the lunch ladies are usually just putzing around when we arrive, blasting a europop/dance radio station.  The music is my favorite part of breakfast, aside from the cake.  I love breakfast cake.  I don't know if cake is a typical Russian breakfast food, but they usually put it out for us, along with yogurt, tea, kasha (a hot grain that can be mixed with anything), plain boiled macaroni and hot dogs (a Russian thing, I don't get it), fruit, and bread.  There was no cake on Friday, which turned out to be a-okay, because we did get all the free samples promised at the factory.

There was a museum tour first, where a  guide explained the process of making chocolate and the history of the factory, which was founded by a fellow named Theodore Ferdinand von Einem in 1851, and then nationalized and re-named after the October Revolution.  The history lesson also included a shout-out to Yuri Valentinovich Knorozov, a Soviet linguist who greatly contributed to the deciphering of ancient Mayan writing, and one of my favorite people of all time.

The factory itself is serious business.  We suited up and were told not to take pictures inside, as one of us may sell chocolate secrets to competitors.  Needless to say, it was awesome.  Lots of machines squishing and pouring delicious chocolate magic, and lots of angry looking Russian ladies in hairnets. 

Lunch Lady Fab
Though we were full of samples, we deemed it highly necessary to eat again to prevent the onset of sugar shock, so we went to some Uzbek restaurant.  I indulged in rice pilaf with veggies, raisins (?), chickpeas, and meat of some type.  Super tasty.  I still haven't gotten a chance to try Georgian food yet, which is said to be phenomenal and spicy (spice is sorely lacking in Russian food.  They just aren't accustomed to it.  I was at Subway the other day and got southwest chipotle sauce, as I usually do, but it was a different formula than in the US and basically just mayo.  Oh well.).  So I'll make that a goal for this week.

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