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MOSCOW When you enter a home in Moscow, you take off your shoes. When you go to a play, you have to check your coat. When you eat a burger, you often wear gloves. Across hygiene-conscious Eastern Europe, many people consider it uncouth and unsanitary to eat a burger with their bare hands. The answer used to be a knife and fork. But the pandemic has accelerated a years-old trend: order a burger from Kyiv to Kamchatka or in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and there is a fair chance it will come with a side of disposable gloves. Most often, the gloves are made of a synthetic, latex-free rubber called nitrile. At Black Star Burger, which launched the phenomenon in Moscow in 2016, the gloves on offer are black, individually wrapped in plastic packets. At Star Burger in Kyiv, Ukraine, they are green (or pink on Valentines Day). At Butterbro, a gastropub in Minsk, Belarus, they come wrapped discreetly inside a napkin next to a serving dish made of the trunk of an ash tree. Gloves, I think, are an unspoken, required attribute of any burger restaurant, said Butterbros manager, Alina Volkolovskaya. I'm surprised that establishments in every country don't offer them.
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