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If you were to make a list of the most classically Russian dishes, щи would be at the top. Щи is a cabbage soup. It usually includes some beef, and the meat and cabbage are cooked separately. The word only occurs in the plural, which results in this curious declension pattern:
You can't mention щи without mentioning the saying «Щи да каша — пища наша» “Cabbage soup and boiled grain is our kind of food.” People say this when they are putting ordinary food on the table to indicate that they aren't fancy-shmancy gourmands with expensive tastes. They are just good ol’ down home folks with simple desires. The American equivalent would be something like “We’re meat and potatoes folks.” Here are some sample sentences.
|— Из чего делают щи?
— Надо ли спрашивать? Из капусты, говядины, лука и картошки.
|“What do they make cabbage soup from?”
“Do you really have to ask? Cabbage, beef, onion and potatoes.”
|Фу, в моих щах плавает муха!||Yuck, there is a fly floating in my cabbage soup!|
|— Я люблю щи заправлять майонезом.
— Правда? Лучше сметаной.
|“I like to top my cabbage soup with mayonaisse.”
“Really? Sour cream is better.”
|К щам лучше подавать чёрный хлеб, а не белый.||It's better to serve black bread with cabbage soup, not white [bread].|
Don responds: Thanks! I didn't know that one. I bet you're right that щам is just an abbreviated form of щекам here.