Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Da Vinci Toast

Location: Государственный Эрмитаж/The State Hermitage
Type of Bread: Russian Black Bread

Joy and Trepidation

The morning of July 3rd, approximately 9 am. We rise early and make some warm up Khlebchik for his first mission. We wrap our stowaway in a comfortable sweater and stash him in Anya's bag, very discreetly.

Хлебчик's Hideout

When we arrive at the State Hermitage we brave the metal detectors, ready talk ourselves out of a prison sentence if need be. Anya plays it cool when the alarm goes off, and no one seems suspicious of her strangely bulging shoulder bag and the furtive look on her face.
With the first hurdle behind us, we move on to an even harder task: finding a suitable outlet. We pretend to casually admire the art, but our gaze is really focused on dark corners and the walls behind benches as we scout out the perfect location for the crime. Nothing feels right until we find ourselves in front of Da Vinci's Mother and Child. There is only one problem...besides the fact that we are standing next to one of the museum's most celebrated paintings surrounded by tourists and gold-leafed columns. Directly in our line of sight sits a cold and heartless Russian babushka, of the breed stationed as guards in every room in every museum in the country. Her eyes scan the room, missing no sign of potential art thievery and illicit toast-making.
Realizing we are up against a tough opponent, we assemble a team of co-conspirators: Anna, Olivia and Sophie. Deterred but not discouraged, we resolve to continue the search.

The first attempt:

In a slightly less gold-covered but still impressive room in the museum, we find an outlet along the wall, next to a large painting being admired by a group of German tourists. Everything seems to go off perfectly: Khlebchik is covertly plugged in, the bread is positioned, our team surrounds him to block him from sight. But at the pivotal moment our outlet fails us. We were close, but it just wasn't meant to be.

So close...and yet so far

The Team

Mission Accomplished:

We continue to wander the museum in search of our perfect outlet, but Sophia remains fixated on the outlet next to the Mother and Child. We find ourselves back there, drawn no doubt by the irresistible powers of fate. We decide to take the leap, Russian Gulag be damned. The sight of Khlebchik's red-orange glow is exhilarating; the smell of toasting Black Bread begins to fill the room. And the toast is delicious.

The red-orange glow

Mother and Child

Scene of the Crime (making toast on the left)


  1. A mystery centuries in the making...The Da Vinci Toast!