Shop and Live Mediterranean

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caviar in the Day of Stalin: Champagne and Caviar - A fine read, indeed.

From time to time, when I'm in the neighborhood, I like to stop at a shop by the name of 'Anoush Deli'. It is a popular delicatessen and grocery store that specializes in dry goods and products from Russia and Eastern Europe. A few other Mediterranean countries are also represented in the cozy shop. I recall on one of my initial ventures into 'Anoush', I found myself attracted toward the books and videos department. On closer view, I noticed that none of the materials were in English. That fact did not stop me from approaching a certain VHS (at the time dvds were far from the norm). On the cover was the stern mustashioed face of Josef Stalin. Suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, I hear, 'is there something I can help you with?', in a clipped yet inquiring tone. 'Oh no, just looking', I replied quickly returning to the canned food section. Just about to date, this has been the closest I've been to coming into contact with details regarding the life and times of Josef Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili December 18, 1878 to March 5, 1953: wikipedia).

Recently, however, a highly fascinating read that explores the complicated, if not uproariously bewildering political regime of the Marxist leader, has been captured in the book, 'Caviar with Champagne, by Jukka Gronow.

'Life has become more joyous, comrades.' Josef Stalin, 1936 Stalin's Russia is best known for its political repression, forced collectivization and general poverty. Caviar with Champagne presents an altogether different aspect of Stalin's rule that has never been fully analyzed - the creation of a luxury goods society - While at the same time as millions were queuing for bread and starving

Stalin's careful control of the media helped him to foster a cult of personality. However, after his death his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced his legacy, initiating the period known as de-Stalinization.: wikipedia). What I especially find so intriguing about the book - but further about Stalin's Russia, is that the country plainly illustrates the existence of 'the Parallel Universe'; as it manages to exhibit dire poverty, while literally creating and setting the bar on what constitutes true luxury - the Proverbial Paradox, if there ever was one. gives this book a five star rating. I whole heartedly stand by their judgment. I recommend purchasing this book on The book book runs in price from $35.00 new, all the way down to $15.00, for a used copy. Also, if you can stand to read a monitor screen, the entire book is available online on a number of websites.

So in the infamous words of Ellen DeGeneris -
'Buy the book' (the name of her shop in her sitcom from the 1990s).

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