…and when I say long-promised I mean long-promised to myself and perhaps my dad. We’re a pair of hungry hungry hippos (although neither of us eats marbles) when it comes to our bellies, so “What’s the food like?” is generally one of the first questions whenever either of us has been anywhere new.
If I promised anything to you (my dear readers) then you’d have given up hope on me long ago, as you would have realised that my ambition exceeds my output by an almost exponential factor… or perhaps it’s more like an inversely proportional relationship? The more I want to get done, the less time each individual ambition can receive, so it is less likely that anything ever gets finished…
Although if you’re reading this then it’s my third blog post in a week, so fingers crossed I can keep up this momentum!
I should also put a disclaimer here that very little of this post is actually about food.
So, Russians love kebabs (or shawerma, or shuvarma, or any one of the many ways they spell it), and unlike your typical British doner (or donner, or dona, or any one of the many ways we spell it), these are made out of real meat.
I love kebabs, especially those made out of real meat, because I feel that they aren’t as unhealthy for me. Russian kebabs also have the benefit of being around 120 roubles each (£1.40 today, about a quid at the start of the year), and I have the disadvantage of being an incredibly lazy monkey when it comes to cooking for just myself, so I probably end up averaging two or three a week (oh come on, my doctor might be reading!!).
Luckily on the ten minute walk from Nevsky Prospekt (the main street of Pete) to my flat, I walk past at least four places where I could acquire one… even if it’s five in the morning. Yes, all four places are open 24 hours (as regular readers might expect). This has the added benefit of hiding the true nature of my disastrous diet from any individual purveyor of these tasty treats, because none of them see me more than once a week… ish.
So I was walking back from a night out (ex-pat event, friends party, discount bar with some random students I met on the way home) and decided I was hungry… I wasn’t. We’d had some tasty biryani and very spicy chicken wings cooked by some pakistani dudes at the party, and I’d pretty much sobered up because I only had one beer in the discount bar, it was coming up to five am, and it was broad daylight.
For some reason I walked past the take-away and the restaurant, but was hooked by a poster on the side of the roadside stand promising a kebab and a coke for 135 roubles. After a short wait I received my bounty, but as I turned to leave I was approached by a grey-haired dude in a leather jacket.
He asked where I was from (in English), so I lied and said Manchester because the truth is complicated and I’m still a proud northerner despite my years in London. “Ah, Manchester United,” he said and put his arm around me… “What you should really do is judo!” at which point he grabbed my belt and demonstrated a judo lift.
The majority of people here know instantly that I’m a foreigner so I’m used to people being very friendly towards me, but this was friendly in a bit of a weird way. I said my goodbyes to the oddball and went on my way.
I’d almost reached home when a car pulled up beside me and the same dude got out… and gave me the entire same schpiel about Manchester United and judo, then got back in the car and his mate drove off.
As they drove off I realised what had happened and why he needed to insist I should try judo. Checked my pocket and my iPhone had gone. I felt sick. The next morning I felt sicker when I realised my money had gone too… and I’d just been to the bank the previous evening to get out money for the next two weeks.
Robbed on the street… twice… in the space of five minutes… by the same freaking guy.
What a [insert derogatory insult here]… Oh yeah, he was one as well, but I really mean me.
Still… if I’d realised what he’d done at the kebab stand and tried to stop him the second time then I may well have ended up stabbed… so I should be thankful, because it could have been a lot worse.