We sent a small R&K team to Russia as it geared up for the world’s biggest sports party. The result is a couple of seriously smart city guides to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
This week is the kick-off for the World Cup, that arena of great-power competition by other means. This year, it’s in Russia, and so much has changed since it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. As we note in the introduction to our brand-new Moscow City Guide, the World Cup is upon us, but you could argue that it’s already a relic from another era, a time when Putin was looking for peaceable engagement with the West, before he annexed Crimea and unleashed his trolls on the world.
If ordinary Russians are supposed to play the part of pariah, they haven’t been told. And despite the prevalence of his topless calendars, Russia is, and will always be, far more than Vladimir Putin and his trolls. As ever, here at R&K, we believe in the power of travel—and even soccer—to however briefly defang the world’s entrenched enmities and mutual suspicions, so we sent a small R&K team to Russia as it geared up for the world’s biggest sports party. The result is a couple of seriously smart city guides to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
R&K’s Nathan Thornburgh, former Moscow resident and long-time Russia observer and enthusiast, and myself, a recent khinkali-convert, decamped to Russia to produce our two latest city guides, working around-the-clock with a stable of local chefs, bartenders, writers, and carousers in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Must-know primers on food and drink from Imperial salads to cloudberry liqueurs, deep dives of the Moscow Metro, love letters to the engineering genius of Central Asian stewed meat that comes in its own carrying case, and the best way to stay connected—it’s all here.
Those excited for the crucible of international soccer (or who just enjoy a good read) should also revisit our series of global soccer dispatches from four years ago, The Far Post. RevisitSupriya Nair’s beautiful and sharply observed essay on the ever-chalkier lines between soccer and politics, party with Team Iran’s fan-base in Curitiba, and break bread with Afghanistan’s national squad.
By now, you’ll have noticed that this week we launched our latest book, “Pasta Pane Vino,” in partnership with our friend and publisher Anthony Bourdain. In the book, the author (and R&K co-founder) Matt Goulding brings Italy to life through intimate portraits of its food culture and the people pushing it in new directions, offering stories like this one on a trio of itinerant mozzarella-making brothers, as well as bits of local wisdom, like how to differentiate the various kinds of Salumi. Buy a copy for yourself and your best friend.
And finally, Shola Lawal wrote this wonderful personal account of fasting and perfecting Muslim Nigeria’s beloved iftar meal; the beany, pudding-like, proteinous moi moi. This year, she hit a sweet spot with her recipe, which she graciously shares with us. Go stock up on Scotch bonnet peppers.
Have a lovely weekend. See you here next week.