Saturday, December 8, 2012

Russian diplomats ... and American bread

Arkady N. Shevchenko – who in 1978 became the highest ranking official of the Soviet Union to defect to the United States – traveled to New York from Russia for the first time in 1958, on a three-month assignment as part of a Soviet delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

In his 1985 book Breaking with Moscow, Shevchenko wrote of meals he took as he lived with his countrymen in a compound owned by his government in this first visit:  

“The cook was from Russia, but the food didn’t taste Russian – milk and eggs, among other foods, had different flavors. But it was the bread that gave us our biggest shock:  packaged white bread from a supermarket had the flavor and texture of glue. We couldn’t get over the idea that Americans really bought it and seemed to like it. If the bread was disappointing, however, there was nothing better than Coca-Cola; we drank it by the gallon during the warm autumn days.”

By the time Shervchenko defected 20 years after this initial visit to America, he had risen through the Soviet and United Nations systems to become the U. N.’s Undersecretary General, the No. 2 person in that body, behind only the Secretary General.

Shevchenko died at 67 in Maryland in 1998. He is buried in Washington, D.C.

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