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Across the Sadovoje Kol’tso, on the left corner of Arbat, just across the skyraiser, we can seeSmolensky Grocery Store the one of the oldest Moscow grocery stores – “Smolensky Gastronom”.  Many generations of Muscovites used to come here for the groceries.  My young mom and dad used to come here even before the war (I mean World War II, of course), when they lived in one of Moscow suburbs, where they could buy nothing at that time.  Whatever you needed to buy, you had to go to Moscow.  Father told me how it was:  at that time you couldn’t form a line in advance, when there was nothing on the shelves (even if they were awaiting some goods to be there).  Lines – it was incompatible with the developed socialism!  So, people waiting for goods, slowly walked around watching militiaman, who kept the order around.  Then, in one moment, the militiaman lent abruptly against the wall, his hands stretched apart.  It meant: “Go ahead!  Stay in the line!” – and all the walkers rushed to that place, forming the line.  And later on, in one-two-three – or more – hours, loaded with butter, flour, meat, cheese etc., they went home. 

Yes, it was years before the war.  I can recall this store in different times along the years.  In 50th and 60th, when I lived there with my parents, and later in 70th and 80th, up to early 90th, when I moved to another part of the city, far from here, but still visiting this store and others nearby.  I remember the most tender and moist pinkish salmon, black and red caviar in big jars on the shelves, beautiful nuts and pastries.  I remember later long lines for a frozen meat or fish, and I remember time, when there was nothing in the store at all – it was in early 90th, when buying, for example, wine or mayonnaise in jar, you needed to give an empty bottle or jar in exchange. 

And here, in this cafeteria, they sold delicious pirozhki with meat filling.  How much I loved them!  I didn’t mind to stay in a long line there, watching with lust how hefty women brought to the counter the big aluminum trays full with golden, warm and fluffy pirozhki, laying neatly in a rows.


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