*I love grocery shopping on Chicago’s Devon Avenue. The Indian and Pakistani groceries always yield fascinating and reasonably-priced spices and vegetables. Another favorite store is the City Fresh Market (3201 W. Devon Ave.), which carries lots of Eastern European and Russian foods. The produce is cheap. I came back to Milwaukee with four bags of groceries. I know I should get excited about Chicago’s museums or nightlife or something, but I always look forward to Devon the most. (For more on Devon Avenue, go here.)
*It’s true that Russians think vegetarianism is loony. It’s also true that traditional Russian food is often labor-intensive. Yet it’s possible to have a quick, vegetarian Russian meal, like the one I made after a day in Chicago. For example: potatoes, boiled or fried, with chopped dill and sour cream; sautéed mushrooms and marinated vegetable salad. You could also open up a jar of lutenitsa or eggplant caviar or any kind of pepper-eggplant-tomato appetizer (check out the selection at your local Eastern European grocery, like, say, Fresh City Market, above).