Wherein Alex shows that she has no social concience when it comes to her skin or her stomach.
I had bear for dinner yesterday.
Jon and I finally managed to get it together enough to drag ourselves out of the room, where we had sat around for hours eating obscene amounts of Cheerios and watching bad movies, consult the good ol' city guide for actual-date-worthy restaurants (as opposed to restaurants of the simple eating variety, without the date intent. Or as opposed to imaginary scenarios in which I cook for him, which will either result in: a.) cooing domestic bliss, or b.) (more likely) me getting snappy over the fact that he's supposedly not appreciating me and my stuffing myself into the role of subjugated female enough blah blah blah. Curse my Italian stepgrandmother for teaching me to cook and giving me anxiety about the fact that I don't possess enough domestic skills. Grr.) and head out into town. We chose the Hunter's Club, which satisfied my bloodthirst and carnivorous instincts, and made the trek to the far side of town.
Said restaurant was located near my school, which I dutifully showed to Jon while playing he recovered from nausea caused by a tooth-jarring minibus ride. He chose to blame the driver, whereas I pointed out that the man was clearly a misunderstood, kindly soul, no matter how much he chainsmoked while driving and disregarded traffic regulations, and therefore the blame must rest wholly on the shocks. Regardless, the ride even made for a minor moment of discomfort in my puritanical tropics-hardened iron stomach, so Jewish Boyfriend With No Mistrust Of Modern Medicine suffered. Regardless, my school is a sight to see, being housed in the lovely Smolny Cathedral, pictured below:
We wandered around there and I got creeped out by bulgy-eyed cherubs I had never before noticed, and related the touching anecdote of how I was an unspeakably vain brat at the age of three: Upon entering a church somewhere in Rome as a small tot, I pointed at a cherub sporting brown curls and said "Lexie!"* I was, however, meltingly adorable, so I could actually get away with having that act applauded, instead of being dealt a swift kick.
We wandered down to the restaurant, which was flanked by seedy buildings advertising HUNTING TOURS! in large yellow and red letters. There was an enormous poster of a dead lion with a grinning Russian happily holding his gun over it. Inside, the restaurant was decorated in a gratifyingly macho way, all furs, mounted heads, red leather walls and dark wood panelling. Now, this is the point that I have to break down and confess that... even as a former vegetarian... I find hunting sexy. Not hick-style hunting in West Virginia, but idealised big game hunting by moustached men in jodphurs in the 20s and 30s. Alternately, hunting as done by lean noblemen in battered tweeds in various mountain-ranges around Europe. I've spent an inordinate amount of time around people who fish with harpoon-guns, my stepfather being an enthusiast, and am actually pretty good at that (Useless skill #4543... though I suppose it would help me survive if I were ever stranded on a tropical island, if I had some way to construct a slingshot-harpoon-thing. I don't know what they're called. But they're badass) but there is a vast difference between fishing of this sort and hunting, even though they both involve killing animals. I'm not in the least squeamish about fish, but there's something about hunting mammals that simultaneously utterly repulses me and attracts me. Also, I adore game meat.
We ordered bear stew with foie gras (yes yes, I'm even more a spoiled brat who is insensitive to animals. I like fur, too. But my numerous pets are all strays adopted off the street, and we've taken care of 4 cats with feline HIV over the years, allowing them to have a good home until they died. So there.) and vegetables and... it was utterly amazing. So so good. I'll probably never eat bear again in my life (especially given the paucity of restaurants actually serving it) but... it was splendiferous.
The only downside was that apparently, hip hop has become an appropriate soundtrack for such a locale. In a way, though, it made it even more delightfully surreal. And... when in Russia, go for the ridiculous?
Afterwards I took Jon to this bar called Propaganda, which is wonderfully done-- Russians doing Soviet kitsch, actually understanding the meaning of the term, and the implementing it far better than anything I've seen in other countries. The walls are lined with books about communism and the revolution, or straight up propaganda, the speakers are ancient things from the thirties, and the decor is gratifyingly red, black and grey. Copies of Lenin's collected writings bolted to the walls in the bathrooms, along with stylised images of happy workers. It's delightful and hilarious, and I love it dearly.
Out of time for now, but more updates will be forthcoming soon!
*Lexie being my childhood nickname.