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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Caviar Comes to Rescue on Christmas Vacation

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My wife and I were persuaded by our friends to pass the Christmas holidays with their relatives in a village near Nizhny Novgorod. Never having visited this ancient city with its abundance of historical sites, we were pretty keen to go. Rustic tranquility, clean air, snowy expanse -- what more could weary city-dwellers wish for?

It also saved me from the shopping marathons that my wife normally organizes.

However, she did manage to glance into a shop window and spot a children's blouse artfully embroidered with a traditional Russian design.

"Annushka would look delightful in it!" exclaimed my wife.

I was certainly not opposed to such a gift for our granddaughter, but we had already spent a great deal of money and only had enough left to cover our ticket back to Moscow. Nonetheless, once Maria gets an idea into her head she has a habit of seeing it through.

Once back at our friends' place, she came and sat on the edge of the bed victoriously holding a jar of black caviar -- which had been intended for the train journey back to Moscow -- in her hands.

"We'll sell the caviar and buy the blouse. Tomorrow morning you can ... "

"I'll do nothing of the sort!" I replied, rolling over to face the wall to make it clear that that was that.

In the morning, Maria nonetheless persuaded me to go with her to the little village shop. The shopkeeper, an elderly lady, gladly agreed to buy the caviar but frowned when she saw the jar. "Caviar is normally red, but yours is so old that it's gone black. It must be poisonous."

Try as she might, my wife was unable to enlighten her as to the difference between red and black caviar.

Not one to be disheartened, Maria decided to try her luck at a roadside cafe near our village, where we had stopped a few times for a beer. When we got there, I waited on the street with our friend's husband while the women went into the cafe.

They returned about 15 minutes later bent double with laughter and both smelling strongly of alcohol.

They had found the landlord alone. He immediately agreed to buy the caviar and, inviting the women to take a seat, he took the glass jar and disappeared behind the bar. A moment later he returned with a tray laden with a decanter of vodka, three shot glasses, bread, a little dish of butter and the jar of black caviar, already opened.

He put it all on the table, poured out the vodka, made three caviar sandwiches, raised his glass and thanked the women. His son only brought him red caviar and it had been a long time since he had tasted the black stuff.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.