Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pectopah

The city of Mazhouli is a Chinese outpost just a few kilometers from the Russian border. As a result, it is a place where two worlds definitely collide. Strangely, they also divide, as it is evident to even a fleeting visitor that this city of 150,000 people contains a distinct Russian area and a distinct Chinese area. Architecture, hair color (imagine a sea of black heads meeting the shore of platinum blondes!), and of course food selection, blare these differences to all who pass through.

Since our hotel was located in the section that is central to where Russian traders come to do business with Chinese merchants, Russian cuisine dominated and allowed us to enjoy some foods that were totally new but vaguely reminiscent of our Eastern European heritage.

Since the menu we received at the restaurant we frequented (three times in two days!) contained only Cyrillic and Chinese (funny to think that Chinese characters would feel more comfortable to us than language with letters!), we relied on some suggestions from our Frommer's guide and that our our fuwuyuan.

Tops on the list was a delicious, creamy tomato based soup called (in Chinese) suba tang. With the expected cubes of beef, potatoes, carrots, and the ceremonial bay leaf, we couldn't get enough.

After soup, we ventured through the menu, sampling Russian favorites like tudouni with niu rou. Basically, a serving of mashed potatoes with a small accompanying meatloaf. Again, a winner!

We also tried more curious delicacies, some of which we have no idea of the names...A banana wrapped in some type of coating and deep fried...Some type of small, round patty that tasted like the sweet farmer's cheese found in the Polish dish polichinka...A more Chinese style dish with white rice and eggplant (not at all Russian, but amazing as well).

Having never eaten these types of food before, we realized how few Russian restaurants there are in the United States, despite the huge size and importance of the country. No doubt, our taste buds were delighted to sample this cuisine, just a stone's through from its motherland.

~Desi

1 Comments:

At 9:36 PM, Blogger Richard said...

When I went to Russia in 1982 I kept seeing signs of "pectopah." Finally I pulled out the dictionary and with my pencil carefully matched the letter to the sound:
P = R
c = s
h = nt

Voial -- restaurant!!

This my first time on your blog in weeks. Thanks for sharing. We will continue to live vicariously through you. Judy et al

 

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