This is the Рынок, a vast indoor/outdoor Russian market. This one is different than the first one we went to ($7 for three tomatoes, no thanks!), and was a whole lot cheaper.
Also, it's ridiculously close to the Metro stop and to our new favorite grocery store.
I'm sorry if some of the pictures are a little blurry or shaky--I didn't want to be flashing my iPhone everywhere, so I had to take most of them on the sly.
The thing I love about the market is the old-world bartering vibe to it. It just seems so much more raw and real than an actual grocery store, here or in the States. I love the hustle and bustle, and all the vendors shouting at you from all sides. If you stop to look at their produce, they'll slice you off a piece of tomato, or give you a cherry to try. There are stands piled high with every kind of spice imaginable, in every color. There are people haggling over meat prices, and others picking out fresh squash and onions to take home. I love it so much.
One thing to get used to if you're outside the US: non-refrigerated eggs. Did you know eggs will keep for at least 3 weeks? You can refrigerate them, but you don't have to. It was like that in Mexico, too, so I wasn't too surprised to see it in Russia as well.
Tim wants me to be sure to point out the cow tongue for sale, right next to that giant blob of meat in the upper lefthand corner.
Maybe I should buy some and make cow tongue soup.
It's quite jarring at first to see whole sides of meat--we are definitely not used to anything like that in the U.S. We only see neatly parceled and nearly unidentifiable pieces of chicken, beef, or pork. It's refreshing and disturbing at the same time.
And definitely less sanitary. But somehow it doesn't matter. People live anyway.
Spices, dried fruit, and nuts galore!
And little candy & pastry shops, too! This is where we buy our honey cake. It is delicious with fresh strawberries.
Tim, the intrepid market explorer.
I am so glad he goes with me. The grocery store is one thing, but the Rynok is a whole 'nother ball game. At the grocery store, at least I can see all of the prices clearly labeled, and I don't HAVE to talk to anyone if I don't want to. I can spend 15 minutes looking between all the different sizes and brands of rice. Not so at the Rynok, where I find myself getting easily flustered when they say something I don't understand. (Okay, which is pretty much anytime they say anything to me.)
I want to buy every single one of those spices.
It's a weird compulsion, I know. But I just doooooooo.
That man's saggy jean bum, forever immortalized on my blog.
Pretty sure his dreams just came true.
A lot of the produce is imported in from Turkey, Armenistan, Azerbaijan, etc.
As with any market, you have to be careful not to get swindled. Not in a major way, but just in a normal way.
For example, we went to buy honey cake (our new favorite treat!), and when we got it home we tasted it and it seemed really dry. Later, we discovered the production date on the box: a month earlier. Whoa! No wonder.
We also got a huge basket of delicious looking strawberries, only to discover that they had snuck in quite a few moldy ones on the bottom.
Oh well--that's life. It's not something they do maliciously, just the way it is in the bartering world. I don't mind it, it just makes you realize you need to be more aware of it.
The honey lady! This is about as close as you can get to a Russian smiling for a picture.
Tim asked if we could take a picture, and she said yes and moved out of the way. We told her we wanted her in it, so she finally agreed.
Tim, purchasing our creamed Russian мёд (honey, obvs.)
The day is just starting here, and I'm planning on going sunbathing in Gorky Park, grocery shopping at Tyopli Stan and the Rynok (FIRST TIME BY MYSELF YOU GUYS!!!), and hopefully sketching at Red Square.