Showing posts from November, 2018

Story Behind the Faberge Egg

Dome above the main staircase Last month I had a chance to visit the Faberge Museum here in St. Petersburg, located in the restored Shuvalov Palace. The building itself is an amazing work of beauty. The rooms are redecorated to fit the early 18th century style in which it was originally built. The golden highlights in the exquisite ceilings added to the look of grandeur throughout the museum. I'm always struck with a feeling of overwhelming opulence when I visit these former palaces. So much money was spent on these homes for royalty. 1885 - Jeweled Hen Egg Seeing the building was an experience all by itself, but seeing the collection of Faberge eggs was icing on the cake. The museum owns nine of the original Imperial Faberge Easter eggs. The eggs were made by Peter Karl Faberge from 1885 to 1917. Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II ordered the eggs to be made as gifts for their wives/mother during those years. 1894 - Renaissance Egg Tsar Alexander III commi

Happy Thanksgiving - Russian style

Since we are away from home this Thanksgiving, we decided, along with another American friend, to introduce that holiday to some of our Russian friends. There's no Thanksgiving Day in Russia on Thursday, so we decided to hold it last Saturday. We had a total of only seven people in our small apartment, but it turned out fine in the end. We managed to come up with chairs for six people, but had to use a stool for the seventh person. Our furnished apartment isn't furnished with much when it comes down to it. We didn't have enough dinner plates for everyone (we only have 2) so we had to to get along with disposable plates. At least we had enough water glasses. Of course, making traditional American food in Russia can be tricky. Fortunately, I brought back some contraband from the States on my recent trip over there to pull it off. After all, how could it be Thanksgiving dinner without Green Bean Bake? Cream of mushroom soup and French Fried Onions are very integral f

Shopping the Russian Way

We've been in St. Petersburg now for four months. I'm getting used to shopping in our local grocery store which in many ways is like grocery shopping in the States. The stores close to my flat are rather large and very bright, just like back home. But there are several differences that are at times hard to get used to. Mayonnaise Besides everything labeled in Cyrillic, the first thing I noticed was the way mayonnaise was sold. I looked on all the shelves for jars of mayo and finally had to ask someone where it was. Of course, in the refrigerated area. I finally found the huge section of bags of mayo. Mayonnaise is used all the time here for every imaginary salad you can think of, so I guess it's not too surprising that so many different kinds are sold. Vanilla Most of the foods that I use are available for purchase, maybe just not in the same form. I searched for hours for vanilla to bake some brownies before asking my friend who's been here two years.

Kazan Cathedral

Last summer we took the time to visit one of St. Petersburg's famous cathedrals. This impressive building is the Kazan Cathedral. It serves as the "mother cathedral" of the Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg. Built in the early 1800s, the church is modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome with two wings spreading north and south of the main cathedral. At the time it was constructed, the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the idea that their cathedral would be built in the shape of the Catholic cathedral in Rome, but the Czar's courtiers applauded the design since it resembled a European structure. The cathedral was dedicated to "Our Lady of Kazan" the most venerated icon in Russia. When we visited the cathedral, the line leading up to the icon snaked around the interior of the church. We watched the people inch toward the icon. As their turn arrived, they climbed the one step to reach the icon and then would stop and pray