Monday, June 12, 2006

The Last Siberian Frontier

96 The Last Siberian Frontier

The cold war is still on here in central Pennsylvania.

This is the only possible explanation for an astonishing fact: you cannot buy Russian dressing in this town.

The place, Moote Pointe, is a sophisticated international center, dominated by a world-famous university. Students come here from every corner of the globe (can a globe really have corners?) to study.

But nowhere can you find Russian dressing.

There are four big league supermarkets within near-walking distance from the Secret Mountain Laboratory serving as Wessays headquarters. They are the kind of supermarkets New Yorkers would kill for. Huge, well lighted, open 24/7, well stocked, clean, friendly. And they have everything.

You want organic produce? How about obscure vegetables grown only in Tibet? Do you need gourmet mustard? They have 100 variations. Soul food. German food. British food. Irish food. Indian food. South American food. Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai. Irish, Scottish, Lithuanian, Estonian. Even stuff from Liechtenstein, Alsace-Lorraine, Luxumbourg and Monaco.

But no Russian dressing.

Every other kind. EVERY other kind.

Sixteen variations of Italian (not including the low fat and no fat versions.)

Fourteen variations of French. Ranch, Bleu and Blue cheese. Honey Mustards galore. One hundred twenty variations of oil and vinegar.

Got the picture?

It’s not that the place is behind the times. In fact, it’s right up there with the latest on Homeland Security. The college football stadium’s to receive extra funding from Washington, which recognizes this one, but not Yankee Stadium or Shea.

Plenty of modern tech here. Wireless zones almost everywhere you go, even Petland. (If your dog gets bored while you shop for him, he can look up the latest on letter carriers or bones on the internet.

The latest fashions. The latest news. The latest everything anyone else has.

But no Russian dressing.

One restaurant’s table attendant (can’t call them “waitress” or “waiter” anymore and “server” is so gauche) hadn’t even heard of the stuff.

Other Russian delicacies are readily available, even if not identified as such. Salt. Potatoes, even beets.

You can make your own, of course. One part ketchup, one part mayo. Mix together and – if you’re a fish head – add a little flesh from one of your fellow fishies.

But it’s not the same. It’s not like slathering the stuff on your salad, watching it ooze out of the jar and onto the lettuce leaf.

Maybe it’s the Russians themselves. Maybe they have something against Central PA. Maybe they just don’t want stuff with their name on it sold here.

We can think of but one way to solve the problem. And that’s by paraphrasing Ronald (perestroika) Reagan: Mr. Putin, tear this wall down.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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