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July 05, 2005

L’Escroc Dinner Table Conversation.

You have, no doubt, heard what Jacky Baby said over a cafe table to Mssrs Schroeder and Putin?

The president, chatting to the German and Russian leaders in a Russian cafe, said: "The only thing [the British] have ever given European farming is mad cow." Then, like generations of French people before him, he also poked fun at British cuisine.

"You can't trust people who cook as badly as that," he said. "After Finland, it's the country with the worst food."

"But what about hamburgers?" said Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, referring to America.

"Oh no, hamburgers are nothing in comparison," Mr Chirac said.

Mr Putin and Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, laughed. Mr Chirac then recalled how George Robertson, the former Nato secretary general and a former defence secretary in Tony Blair's Cabinet, had once made him try an "unappetising" Scottish dish, apparently meaning haggis.

"That's where our problems with Nato come from," he said.

Mr Schröder and Mr Putin laughed again.

An American friend emailed with:

Holy Shit.  This is what starts wars…

Which might be a little extreme. I can imagine the Finns being pretty pissed off (food worse than the British?) but what really gets me is that they were at a cafe in Russia. I have never seen worse food than in that country. Seriously, haggis is a delicacy compared to most of what they eat.

July 5, 2005 in The English | Permalink


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Russian food is fantastic, but only if you like the style of food that it is, i.e. very heavy and root vegetable based. It's not too different from British food IMO, which is also excellent if you want something more substantial than a lettuce leaf.

BTW, I wonder what language they were speaking in. AFAIK, Putin speaks neither English or French, Chirac doesn't know German, and neither Chirac nor Schroeder know Russian. It'd be wonderful of they were having this conversation in English.

Tim adds: From the article, Chirac in French, Schroeder and Putin in German and at least three interpreters.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jul 5, 2005 11:16:34 AM

Haggis is, indeed, a delicacy in my opinion. Good haggis is absolutely delicious and if Chirac didn't appreciate it, then more fool him.

I'm not Scottish either!

Posted by: HJHJ | Jul 5, 2005 1:12:46 PM

Russian food is not fantastic. It is rubbish, as Tim W says. With the possible exception of Pelmeni (dumplings) all the nice food in Russia has been nicked from other countries that were colonised by the Bolsheviks - Gerogia, Armenia, Uzbekistan etc.

Posted by: Rafael | Jul 5, 2005 1:25:36 PM

Russians invented the idea of courses.

Posted by: Monjo | Jul 5, 2005 1:54:08 PM

Sure, the Russians nicked a lot of decent food from the rest of the Soviet Union (esp. Uzbekistan....plov, hmmmm!).

But I like the native stuff too. вареники с картошкой is particularly nice (I think it's native Russian) and you cannot beat a bowl of борш с сметана.

We have a great Russian restaraunt in Dubai, and I eat there all the time. It takes some getting used to but I've eaten far worse food than росские продукты.

Tim adds: I think both Rafael (he lived there for a number of years) and myself are talking about what you get if you actually live there. I’ve forgotten what Varenniki are but potatoes? You are going for the sterotype there. And borsch is Ukrainian, not Russian.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jul 5, 2005 5:18:11 PM

Maybe times have changed a bit. When I visited Nizhnekamsk, I didn't find the food at all bad, although I had a Russian girl cooking for me. She cooked it from scratch, and it was about as close to what you'd eat if you lived there as is possible to get as far as I could see. We also ate in a few cafes and the like, and I didn't see too much to complain about. The dried fish they eat with beer is a little odd, but you get used to it the more beer you drink.

I'll defer to your better knowledge of Borsh, but it is widely eaten in Russia nowadays AFAIK. I bought some at Kazanski Voksal in Moscow and have eaten worse things at a railway station.

BTW, Vareniki is like Uzbek manti, but with potato instead of meat in the middle. Dunno why you think I'm reverting to stereotype, that's the name of the dish: vareniki c kartoshkoy.

Tim adds: Just that everyone thinks of potatoes and cabbage when thinking of Russian food.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jul 5, 2005 6:43:46 PM

C'mon Tim.....I'm interested and informed enough about Russia that I don't resort to lazy stereotypes. Not usually, anyway.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jul 6, 2005 5:12:50 AM

Hey Tim I am about to spend a few months in Nizhnekamsk . Can you tell me what are the best places to eat there?

Posted by: frank | Aug 1, 2008 3:05:42 PM