In The Moscow Scene, Geoffrey Bocca’s 1976 book about life in the Soviet Union, his description of a visit to a restaurant in the Soviet capital had to be re-read many times to be believed. By the 1970s restaurant waiters were viewed as the lowest of the low in this most dystopian of countries, and it showed. The waiter Bocca encountered brought new meaning to surly, the greasy, tattered menu he handed to him hadn’t changed in 25 years, and then the waiter proceeded to start an argument: Bocca wanted borscht and beef fillet, but was gruffly told he would be having caviar and Chicken…

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