That lovely first bite....
The thrill of being in a foreign land was overwhelming and fascinating for Misty and Tucker Hayes. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the mystique. They were experiencing what few Westerners had ever experienced, the economic collapse of the Soviet Union its resulting devastation.
Without question Tucker and Misty had money to storm the weather, so to speak, but they were living in a whirlwind of activity and chaos that they would one day look back as being an interesting time in their lives.
The Romanovs had the Hayes over for games and desserts one Friday night so they could continue dialoging about the East and the West. Chips, nuts, pretzels, soda, and cake was on the menu that night. They laughed until they cried and then laughed more.
Yulia saved the best for last and brought out a white sheet cake with ornate flowery frosting decorations.
“Ah, just like home,” Tucker said. “This is my kind of party.”
Yulia cut the cake and served them on small dishes.
“Do you drink coffee or tea with your dessert?” Yulia asked.
“Coffee is good but a glass of milk may even be better,” Misty said.
Yulia disappeared into the kitchen and returned with glasses and a glass bottle of milk. She poured and served.
Tucker sliced off a hunk of cake and frosting with his fork and shoved it into his mouth. Misty followed his lead.
As soon as he took a bite, he knew something was wrong. He slowed his chewing and washed it down with milk.
“Interesting. Quite the treat,” he said but it was a lie and probably everyone knew it just by his wide eyes and inability to swallow easily.
Misty finished her first bite, downed some milk, and said, “Rich, very rich. Too rich for me. Not another bite.”
Yulia and Sergei were already on their second slice when Misty looked at her watch. “Tucker, hon, you have a busy day tomorrow. We probably should be getting back.”
The Hayes thanked the Romanovs for hosting and promised they would try to be good hosts when the Friday night games were played at their home.
When Tucker got home, he called Dennis, an American friend.
“Dennis, the strangest thing happened. We had some cake at our Russian friends’ house and it was horrendous. Was it just our hosts or was something else going on?”
“Ha ha. It gets Westerners every time. Beautiful, lovely frosted cake, I take it.”
“All right, here’s the scoop,” Dennis said. “Back in the Soviet era, they were given rations for flour, bread, sugar, salt, that type of thing. Since sugar costed a lot, they subtracted a small amount to make what they had last longer. They reasoned if nobody noticed a tablespoon of sugar was missing, then how about 2 tablespoons. If no one noticed 2, then how about three. Before you know it, they’d save all of their sugar by not putting any of it in at all.”
“So, what then were we eating?”
“If I had to guess, probably beautiful LARD frosting,” Dennis said.
“Ewww. No wonder I still have that greasy taste in my mouth.”
“Welcome to Mother Russia.”
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