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Может ли правительство направлять культурное развитие общества? Новейшая американская история предоставляет два контрастных примера.

Первый – знаменитый «сухой закон», принятый 18-й поправкой к Конституции и действовавший с 1920 по 1933 год. Непонятно, привел ли он хоть к какому-то уменьшению пьянства, зато его побочные эффекты вроде расцвета организованной преступности сказываются до сих пор. Одним словом, этот закон потерпел полное фиаско :(

Второй – система мер против табакокурения, которые начали энергично вводить с 1995 года. Положительный результат налицо: если сегодня увидишь в США курящего человека, знай, что он – иностранец. Каких-то нежелательных общественных последствий вроде не наблюдается. И меня чрезвычайно занимает: почему же такая разница?

Умерший от рака легких Юл Бриннер выступает против курения

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Nov. 3rd, 2016 01:15 am (UTC)
Sorry for a delayed answer, do not know what to say really.You are not the only Russian who complains that they find products of the US food industry weird and inedible,so there is a pattern there.

One thing I have to say that I do not think there is such a thing as a "standard" supermarket here, lots of diversity, different supermarket chains targeted at different groups of people. I had much worse experience with food abroad, in places like Indonesia, Japan or even Spain, maybe because I know where to find good food in the US, and which places or brands to avoid here, but abroad I have to follow my instinct.

Also have to say that something about foods here in Western Hemisphere (US/Latin America/Caribbean) IS different, although I cannot exactly pin down out what it is, but I guessed I am used to it, and to me it had long became a default flavor.

Looking into the past, the US did not have food culture until recently, and food here is so much better than it was 30 years ago, the WASP's that were a dominant minority here were just indifferent to food. My present girlfriend is a "swamp Yankee" and her mother's cooking is awful, but at the same time not so different from Russian Jewish cooking of my childhood: boiled beef and potatoes devoid of skins, overcooked chops and vegetables, everything bland and cooked to death. Nothing risque, very limited choice of ingredients or methods. The US Southern cooking though is very different and truly delicious, I guess due to African and Creole influences, but Yankees, not the Southern WASPs were culturally dominant in the US.

Overall, in my experience, the best average level of food was in Turkey, followed by Italy. Spain had lots of great food and some not so great. US and Canada had some of the greatest, and some awful. Canada has the best ingredients ever and the best French food in Quebec,lot better than in Paris IMHO. France had lots of mediocre food at high prices and so did Japan. Latin America had lots of simple but very good wholesome food, with Mexico having some of the most delicious food ever in southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Yucatan). Indonesia had great soups and rice dishes, and some not very palatable foods. Russia - some good foods - but also some that were not very fresh, and what's with having mayonnaise everywhere?

Edited at 2016-11-03 01:23 am (UTC)
Nov. 3rd, 2016 01:49 am (UTC)
I am impressed with a vast number of different national cuisines that you had a chance to sample ;) My experience is much more limited, but to my taste, too, the overall best seems to be a Turkish/Greek version of Mediterranean food (our Georgian/Armenian one is also close to it). But, of course individual great dishes exist in every cuisine.

My visit to Canada was too short to give a fair judgement, but I have to admit that muffins in the unversity cafe were delicious, and I do like Liberté yogurts. I certainly agree that some US supermarkets ("Trader Joe's" or "Whole Foods") are better than the other. My absolute favorite is "Zabar's" in NYC - it is a truly fantastic place; have you ever heard about it, or perhaps been there? Every real foodie must visit it once ;)

But, standard chain supermarkets (such as "Shaw's" or "Kroger") are a different matter. Yes, now they all have very decent produce sections, and this is of course most important. But, I am a cheese lover, and average American cheese, yogurt or in fact any other dairy product is just soap, and I don't understand why. The situation is very different in continental Europe and even in the UK - although English bread is as terrible as American one. Of course you can easily find superb French or Italian cheeses in the US - but why not locally made? The same I will have to say about any cakes or sausages.
Nov. 5th, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
I agree with you about Greek/Turkish/Georgian/Armenian iterations of Mediterranean probably being the best cuisine.
Great minds think alike..:-)

Also agree about Zabar's - I know the store very well as I used to live not far from there in the early 80's, first visited it in 1980 or 1981, it was quite a unique store back then. (I think it was founded by some Russian Jew back between World Wars, in 20's or 30's.) But now there are similar stores in most big US cities.

Btw, I am also a cheese lover, and these days there are plenty of North American made cheeses just as good (and just as expensive, LOL) as best French/Italian/Spanish/Swiss/UK products. There are amazing cheeses made locally in Maine or Vermont or Western Massachusetts or upstate New York, also on West Coast and in parts of Canada. They do not sell them in Shaw's and Kroger's, but in places like Boston Public Market (https://bostonpublicmarket.org/) or Russo's almost next door to me (russos.com), or at specialty cheese stores. Russo's (a local supermarket with just one location) also has excellent bread baked right there, and so is this bakery around here (clearflourbread.com), but what passes for bread at Shaw's is indeed awful. Shaws/Krogers are for people who either do not care about food or do not understand much food, mostly older generation, or lower middle class/working class (sorry for snobbery).
Nov. 5th, 2016 11:26 pm (UTC)
I certainly agree that one can find excellent food in the US; the problem is that one needs to know where to look. It is very different in, let say, Germany. My test are cafeteria at railway stations: what one can get there tells me what the country eats ;)

I remember what an American girl told me when I complained to her about local food: yes, it is awful and unhealthy, but we had been raised on it, so we crave it :( Maybe it will change in a few generations :)

"I think it was founded by some Russian Jew back between World Wars, in 20's or 30's"

Yes, the store was founded in 1934 by the father of the current owner, Saul, and they hail from some Ukrainian shtetl. Once I met Saul at the store (I new how he looked like from the journal the store publishes). It was something like meeting Henry Ford - they certainly shared a similar passion for their business :)