That headline is not an exaggeration. With Russia's economy thoroughly in the toilet due to a devil's cocktail of falling oil prices, disastrous trade policies, and ill-advised costly international events (both the Olympics and the World Cup), Russia is now in a place where black market cheese dealership is a thing.
Thanks to its laughable-at-the-time decision to ban Western imports in the wake of economic sanctions after Russia decided to march into the Crimean and shout "MINE," Russia's food situation has gotten so bad that people are literally dealing in illicit gouda. We could soon be seeing fermented lactation addicts popping up on St. Petersburg street corners saying the Russian equivalent of "Come on, man...just one hit of that sweet cheddar...I NEED it, man..." This crisis has gotten to the point where it caused Business Insider to print the following actual quote from an actual Moscow banker:
"A sort of speakeasy scene for French and Italian cheeses evolved which was akin to buying drugs from 1980s bodegas in Brooklyn," one Moscow banker told Business Insider. "First, you walk into the bodega slowly, trying to wipe any suspicious look from your face. Then you pretend to look around the shelves for a while until the clerk recognizes you, at which point you and the clerk make eye contact and establish that metaphysical connection that signifies to both of you 'I'm here to cop an ounce.' You wait until there are no customers around, approach the clerk. He takes you to the back room, shows you the goods, you haggle over the price, shove the bag in your pocket, hand over the cash and bounce. Except here you're leaving the store with a ball of fresh Italian mozzarella..."
None of this, of course, changes the fact that Russians are still all about the Poot-Poot: they appear, probably in large part due to Putin's strict media controls, to be fully buying his message that the country's economic woes are due to a Western plot to hurt Russia because us Westerners are such big old meaniepantses that we can't resist hurting Russia purely to make ourselves feel better. We must be jealous of Russian culture or something. Yeah, that's it.
Of course, it's not like any website could've predicted that Russia's international food bans were a really, really bad idea. Likewise, it didn't rapidly become apparent how much of a terrible idea this was or anything. Nope. Clearly, no one had any idea this would happen.
Image via mama_mia/Shutterstock. Also, that first tag is actually one of the most-utilized tags on this website, and there are no words for how happy that makes me.