By Ben |

Sometime around the turn of the century, my parents and I met up at my sister's house in Pittsburgh for Christmas. 'Becca lives in Squirrel Hill, a very ethnically diverse neighborhood, and just a block from her house I found a Belarusian import store. I was unfamiliar with Belarusian imports, so I took my time looking at them and trying to identify whether the customers were speaking with the proprietor in Russian or some other language. It sounded close enough that I thought I could put my college Russian to use.

There was a display of chocolate bars, so I decided I would buy all my family members chocolate for their Christmas stockings. I knew my sister prefers white chocolate, and I didn't see any in the display, so when the other customers were done, I approached the proprietor.

«Есть ли белый шоколад?» I asked. ("Is there white chocolate?")

«Есть,» she replied, «но он немецкий.» ("There is, but it's Nemyetskiy.")

I was confused by the unfamiliar word. «Немецкий?» I repeated.

"German," she translated, and the contempt in her voice made clear that she thought German chocolate was far inferior to Belarusian. Nevertheless, she produced a bar from under the counter, and I bought it along with an assortment of Belarusian bars. 

It's stuck with me, every time someone sings the praises of German chocolate, I think it can't stand up to Belarusian!