Tuesday, January 6, 2009

SCRIBBLINGS: Ukrainian roadside diner

I have been taking buses across western Ukraine today. Since amenities are in short supply, hitting a barren roadside diner is a ritual on these trips. It is like roasting marshmallows when camping or eating peanuts on a domestic flight; it just happens.

I love these places. When I first started traveling in former Soviet countries it was a nightmare to stop in small town dives because I was the center of attention. But now I know enough Russian to slide into the background and become anonymous.

There is always a show, no rules in these joints. For example, on the last page of the menu instead of desserts there is listed the price of broken glasses, plates, chairs and tables.

I have seen people get so drunk that they pass out and piss everywhere- normal (someone will be out to clean it). Fights, normal: I once saw a guy flattened on the outskirts of Kiev, trail of blood, broken glasses, face down in gravel and a 13ish year old girl roller bladed right over him without a second thought.

One reason I stay in Ukraine is to stretch my money so that I can work on my projects longer. The dollar still has balls here. For example, dinner today:

1 manly bowl of borscht
1/4 loaf of sour dough bread
1 garlic roll
1/2 litre of local brew
klezmer music

Price: 1.75 USD.

The downside? Olga will fuck you up if you don't finish her soup.

WATCH: First meal in Ukraine, from Everything is Illuminated


vivienne strauss said...

this post especially really cracked me up!! Your blog makes me want to watch "Everything is Illuminated" again. thank you for commenting on my collages!

fucoid said...

you are right on about 'everything is illuminated.'

a few weeks ago i posted this clip from the movie:


diners here do truly give that vibe.

thanks for stopping by.

Kristin Jo said...

haha thats awesome. i lived in ukraine for about 3 years a few years back. olga looks like she could definitely fuck you up.