A strange land where people don't celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. And think fish eggs are a delicacy. And wear live bear cubs on their heads.
|"Don't ask about the carpets".|
But a largely un-highlighted aspect of Russian culture is what I call the Native American mentality.
Probably the largest complaint that Native Americans had about the White man wasn't that we viciously killed and raped and destroyed their entire homeland with little to no regard for the original inhabitants of the land. No. It was that we didn't use all of the parts of the Buffalo when we killed it.
However, if, instead of Spanish and English colonists, the first settlers were Russian colonists, I think they would have gotten along a lot better.
For example, it is well documented that Russians will reuse grocery bags as trash bags. Ok, that's not too weird. I remember doing that too back in the day. Also, they will wash out the "Banichki" (or small containers) that they get their pickled olives, tomatoes, watermelons, mushrooms and herring in from the grocery store. (Yes, they WILL pickle all of those items) They then use them as a kind of Tupperware, or a coin collector/piggy bank. Or, in a pinch, as a little hat. Russians are also known to save and dry out used paper towels. While definitely classified as insane, I realize this is not unique to the Russian culture.
But probably one of the most outrageous things I've noticed that I've never seen before is when they save Styrofoam meat trays. That's right, that yellow thing the meat comes in. They will save and wash this and use it for a serving dish or a non-permanent cutting board.
Meanwhile, my wife and I just spent a billion dollars on some ultra super special secret crazy Lock & Locks. Which are like Tupperware on PCP. Why? I'm not sure, but I think we came up with the reason it was "for Sammy's food". In retrospect, I think some Pickled Tomato Banichki might have been a good alternative.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that I don't understand WHY they save everything, I'm simply pointing out that it is strange from an American ultra-consumerist perspective. I don't think I need to say it, but I will just for good measure: I understand the historically limited availability of household goods in Russia.