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Wealthy Russians spend USD 1,000 on exquisite delicacies a day

Wealthy Muscovites do not have to go to Italy to have some ciabatta or camambera. "As for me, I prefer to have some gransole and jamon for breakfast, and if it comes to wine, you have to have a burrata with it," one can hear Russians say such sentences in very expensive grocery stores. Very expensive food

When I overheard this conversation at a party where all the bigwigs of the Russian business gathered, I didn’t get right away that they were just talking about bread with some slices of cheese and smoked meat. The Russian elite are now used to eating foreign delicacies every day. They are now being sold in Moscow’s food shops, but only haunters of Courchevel and Italia can afford to buy a loaf of bread for 400 rubles($14) or a piece of cheese costing 3000 rubles ($107) per kilogram.

I enter Moscow's grocery boutique "Globus gurme" and automatically take a cart. When I see the prices, I understand at once that I have come to the wrong place. I want to get lost among other clients but I notice that there are only two of them in the whole shop. An attentive shop assistant from the bakery department asks me if I would like something. I try to clear myself saying I’ve come here on the instructions of my boss and want to see what we could buy for a banquet. The shop personnel receive this version with understanding.

"Our bread is always fresh. We deliver the frozen kneaded dough from abroad and then bake the bread here, in the shop, - explains the shop assistant, smiling. Joint loafs are much more appetizing than standard bread sticks."

"What do they taste like?" I continue the conversation.

"Anything you wish! Belgian bread is made with honey and nuts. This bun tastes like fried potatoes, and that one is a rye cookie. Our buyer’s favorite is Italian bread ciabatta," the girl says.

I've already heard this word at the party, so I ask for its price. It turns that this loaf of bread made from hard wheat, weighing 650 grams, costs 401 rubles ($14). Other 400-grams loafs are a little cheaper – from 120 to 190 rubles ($4-$6.5).

"What kind of cheese would you like? - asks the shop assistant, and then continues - This spring cheese with mold is most popular."

I begin examining the prices. You can certainly see that all these delicacies are an exclusive product from some French farmers.

I take a tiny piece of Rocamadur cheese made from sheep’s milk weighing 35 grams. It turns out that a kilogram of that cheese costs about 2000 rubles ($71.5), which is almost as much as a Russian pensioner gets a month.

The milk department is the only one that has a pretty big variety of Russian products that can compete with foreign wares.

When I saw kefir in 500 ml bottles with a green foil lid, my heart sank. They reminded me of my childhood. But you have to pay for nostalgia: one bottle of kefir costs 61 rubles ($2), which is three times more expensive than that packed in packet.

- It tastes the same as its cheap analogues, - tells me the manager. -The same ferment and the same initial products are being used to make it. At first sight it seems to be denser, but if you stir it up a little, it turns out to be the same kefir. There is nothing special about it, but it has a magical effect on our clients, they just "snatch it away”. The same effect have the cottage cheese, 200 rubles ($7) per kilogram, and ryazhenka, 80 rubles($3) per one glass, made in the Moscow Region. That's why the French yogurts, 186 rubles ($6.5), don’t always get sold out.

Our conversation was interrupted by a woman who asked the shop assistant to pack two dozens of eggs, 90 rubles ($3) each, for her. The day before I bought identical ones in a shop for “mere mortals”, but just for some thirty rubles ($1).

If you think that one can find anything he wishes in this shop, you're mistaken. In the meat department I only notice beef and pork.

"Do you have marmoreal meat?" I ask a stumper.

The shop assistant gets confused and tells me it is to be delivered soon. The marmoreal meat from Australia costs 1200 rubles ($43) per kilogram while the one from New Zealand – is twice as much. In the grocery department I don’t find any bananas for fry-up. Neither do I find any Columbian or French potatoes.

Trying to improve the situation, the manager pulls me into another department. There we see the earlier mentioned jamon. But then I find myself absolutely unready to pay 450 rubles ($16) for 100 grams of a smoked boar's leg. Because of that I also refuse to buy the ostrich sausage, the French smoked sausages, size of the little finger, and the Spanish salami, even though they are about 100 rubles ($3.5) cheaper.

"Our regular customers spend almost all their time abroad. There they go to restaurants and try different delicacies. When they return to Russia, they long for foreign delicacies. And we are the ones that help them: we bring their favorite dainties to Russia, - explains the shop assistant. – It is true though that abroad all these products are about 30% cheaper. We have to raise the prices because of the delivery by plane and the customs clearance. In France, the rich men spend about 40 euros every time they go to these kinds of grocery boutiques while the Russians easily spend about 20-25 thousand rubles ($714-$893) when they come to our shop. What is more, they do it several times a week. Those who like to eat well are never afraid of the prices."

But I should also mention that not all products are so expensive at that grocery boutique. In addition to the tiny piece of cheese, I also bought a peanut-and-honey snack for 85 rubles ($3) per kilogram.

A breakfast of an average Russian elite gourmet

-a glass of kefir - 36 rubles ( $1.3)

or 150 grams of yogurt – 186 rubles ($6.7)

-two slices of bread – 80 rubles ($3)

-1 egg – 9 rubles (30 cents)

-50 grams of butter – 25 rubles ($1)

-100 grams of cheese and sausage – 260 rubles and 160 rubles($9 and $5.7)

-100 grams of cottage cheese – 20 rubles (70 cents)

Total: 600 – 786 rubles ($21.5 -$28).

Extra information:

According to experts, in Moscow, there is one million premium class consumers and 100,000  first class consumers.

Have you tried this?

-Balsamic vinegar "Mussini”, 100 years old, 60 gr. - 13 thousand rubles ($464)

-White truffles, 50 ml – 7110 rubles ($254)

-Brandy “Hennessy Ellipse” – 227210 rubles ($8115)

-Honey, gathered from the beehives, placed on the roofs of the French houses, 125 gr. - 600 rubles ($21.5)

Express Gazeta

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12/2008 02/2009


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