(This is a crucial bit of information that I didn't have when I got to know my boyfriend. The poor guy was appalled by my lack of hospitality, because I didn't offer tea whenever he came over. It just never crossed my mind. Silly me thought drinks are made for extinguishing thirst, but his culture says tea is much more important.)
Tea time is a culture thing. They drink tea together, chat and eat cookies. It all belongs together and they show hospitality by offering tea to a visitor. I don't drink much tea and can sit around and chat without it, but in Belarus tea has to be had. Just has to be there. Don't ask me. It's a culture thing and not to be argued about.
Tea can not come alone. Cookies have to be there. Of course you can offer whatever snack you have, but cookies are traditional. Cookies are the thing!
Cookies, fucking cookies, man.
I like cookies. Before getting to know the Belarusian stance on cookies I might have even said I love cookies, but I've had to revise that. Cookies were never as big for me as they are for them.
So there are tea time cookies. These are dry, sweet cookies. Very dry and very sweet and delicious. They go very well with black tea. And there are thousands of varieties of them!
This is half of the cookie aisle in a very small (!) supermarket.The basic difference is - just kidding! If there are differences they are very subtle. Like the look is slightly different or the taste differs a bit, because lemon or some other artificial flavouring was added. The real variety is found at the cookie counters. What?
There are cookie counters! Like we have meat counters, fish counters and cheese counters (which they all have too), they also have cookie counters!! There is one woman there, probably specialised on cookies, who sells them to you by gram! I was astonished!
You can not buy five cookies of these and twelve cookies of those. They are sold by gram and the cookie counter woman will not budge. I tried to buy one of each to try them all, but she explained she only sells by gram. Also she explained they all taste the same anyway and gave me a broken one to try. But there is way more variety at the counter. There's chocolate! And marmalade!
Huge baskets filled with cookies! Cookie heaven!
As you can see, they also sell cakes. I developed a love-hate-relationship with Belarusian cakes. I love them, because they are delicious (as you can plainly see), but I also hate them, because appearantly they give you a slight case of the shits. They don't seem to throw the unsold cakes out at the end of the day, instead they sell them the next day. And so on and so on. If your stomach isn't used to... ahem... aged fats and dairy products, you will feel it. After eating a few cakes, I felt it, but they still were so delicious! I had to try a lot of them (I mean, I was there to experience things, right?) and maybe my body would get used to it. No such luck. But it didn't matter.
The ones in the buttom shelf, second from left. The stuff to die for!