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Leningrad Cowboys: European Store Oklahoma

5:00 AM EDT on April 22, 2021

I was about to embark on the wet walk home from Charcoal Oven last Friday afternoon when I looked down the decaying shopping center to notice windows filled with small paintings of wide-eyed children glaring at me…calling to me in an unknown language. As I peeked up at the newly-installed signage above, it read European Store Oklahoma, 3604 N. May Ave., Suite B.

In Oklahoma City, stores that sell home-goods and housewares from all over Latin America and Asia are commonplace but, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen one that services formerly Eastern Bloc countries like Russia and so on. Intrigued with the little store in this strip-mall, like the spy who loved me, I slowly entered as an obviously European couple, arms full of goods, were walking out.

Check out the beautiful furniture:

I have to admit that I was obviously surprised at the simple beauty of the place; years of forced American propaganda had prepared me for a dank dungeon of deadly grey with a dusty few jars of calcified borscht. Instead, there was a small sectional of obviously fine furniture set up, complete with sweet confections on the coffee table. I wanted to sit down and take a load off, but my wet clothes forbid it.

Oklahoma might not have a Russian Tea Room, but at least now we at least have an eastern European lounge complete with foreign candies, I thought.

Making my way down the carefully arranged aisles, like many stores that carry foreign goods, there were plenty of biscuits, cookies and chocolates, but also more practical eats like canned vegetables, bottled fruit and, as I mystifyingly turned the corner, large whole mackerel, vacuum-packed and, honestly, looking delicious.

It took everything inside me to not to buy one and walk home with it for dinner that night, knowing the immediate thawing of the large fish in my backpack would draw suspicion towards me, mostly from my dog who, of course, loves fish as well, possibly more.

Unlike many foreign shops however, the amount of imported meats and cheeses were bountiful, as the refrigerators off to the side were mostly packed with these good goods, offering worldly tastes that I’m sure I haven’t had before, mostly because I don’t read Russian and, honestly, was too embarrassed to ask for help. Any Russian readers care to help me out? Please?

Still, I do understand the universal language of ice cream and found a frozen bar to purchase on the way out. I paid my two bucks and walked out unwrapping the beast, expecting it to be an ice cream sandwich of sorts; instead, it was a slab of the most flavorful taste of rich vanilla sandwiched by a flattened waffle cone, creating a memorable snack for the ages.

My first serving of Russian eats—possibly ever, I still think—this ice cream sandwich beat out most frozen confections from the States and I wasn’t alone in that belief—like a junk food junkie, Sean maniacally downed his cold portion, possibly without even tasting it. Na zdorovie!

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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