Чайный гриб

September 17th, 2008 — posted by Olga
tea mushroom

Many Russian people have a чайный гриб (tea mushroom) in their home. Tea mushrooms are especially useful in lowering blood pressure, regulating the digestive tract, and promoting general wellbeing. Tea mushrooms are placed in a large glass container after which the container is filled with cold tea (usually black tea). Sugar is added to feed the tea mushroom because the mushroom uses the sugar to make yeast which is an important part in the brewing process. After five days of brewing, the tea beverage is ready for use. Because of the brewing process, this tea has a slightly sour taste which many people seem to enjoy particularly in the summer.

As a child, my mother made this tea beverage very often during the summer because it was refreshing, tasty, and healthy for the body. I remember telling my mother, «я люблю пить чай из чайного гриба! » “I love drinking tea from the tea mushroom!” and my mother would answer «да, чай из чайного гриба очень вкусный и полезный» “yes, tea from the tea mushroom is very tasty and healthy”.


September 16th, 2008 — posted by Olga

The Russian word for strawberry is клубника. Another word for strawberry is земляника. Земляника grows in forests and is smaller in size than a store-bought strawberry but it still has the same taste and texture. As a child, I enjoyed picking strawberries with my grandmother and parents. We took large baskets with us and spent many hours picking strawberries and enjoying ourselves. At the end of the day, we walked home with baskets full of strawberries and at home my family used some of these strawberries to make strawberry jam.

Today, I tell everyone «Я любила делать варенье из земляники» “I loved making jam out of strawberries.” I enjoy shopping for strawberries today because it brings back memories of me picking strawberries with my family.

Перец (часть первая)

September 15th, 2008 — posted by Don

The Russian word for pepper is перец. It means table pepper, which is the ground fruit of piper negrum, a plant of the Indian subcontinent, and it also means peppers like the bell pepper, the jalapeño, and the poblano, which are cultivars of capsicum annum, a plant native to the Americas. The latter are sometimes called chiles (or chilis or chilies or chillies).

The second е in перец is a fleeting vowel. The declension of the noun turns out like this:


In English we might say "Do you like hot peppers?", but like most food items in Russian, you use перец in the singular when speaking abstractly: «Мама не любит острый перец, а я острое люблю» “Mom doesn't like hot peppers, but I love hot stuff."

The phrase “two peppers” nearly got me into trouble last week. I wanted to verify that one could use перец after numbers to count individual peppers, so I googled the phrase «два перца» “two peppers” and, lo and behold, «у меня на экране появилась всякая порнушка» “all sorts of porno appeared on my screen.” What the devil? It turns out that перец also has slang meanings of “hot guy” or “male reproductive organ.” Oh, dear. That means I accidentally used university resources to… “А вдруг меня уволят?» “What if they fire me?” If you think that's paranoid, you obviously haven't read Kafka's “The Trial.”

Sometimes the slang meaning of the word is simply “guy,” and the phrases "клёвый перец" and "классный перец" simply mean “cool guy.” Here's a non-pornographic joke that uses the word, along with a loose translation. [source]

Приехали два перца на рыбалку. Two guys went fishing.
Привезли с собой лодку, сети. They brought a boat and nets with them.
Разместились в рыбацком домике. They set themselves up in a fishing hut.
Решили перед процессом немного выпить, ну и … выпили. They decided to have a bit to drink before [starting] the process, and, well… they got drunk.
Один утром просыпается, выходит «до ветру», смотрит, а поле за их домиком всё сетями усыпано. One wakes up in the morning, goes outside to take a leak, looks around, and the field behind the hut has their nets strewn all over it.
Разозлился и побежал будить второго. He got mad and ran to wake up the second.
- Ты что ж, придурок, сети-то по полю раскидал?! "You idiot, what the heck did you thow the nets all over the place for?!"
- А где ты грёб — там я и кидал… "Wherever you rowed, that's where I threw them…"

So why is this funny? It's funny because the first was so drunk he rowed the boat on land, plus he couldn't remember doing so the next morning, plus the second was so drunk he threw fishing nets on land without objection.

de(spice) der Pfeffer;
(vegetable) die Paprikaschote
es(spice) la pimienta;
(vegetable) el pimiento, el ají, el chile
fr(spice) le poivre;
(vegetable) le poivron


September 13th, 2008 — posted by Don

Also part of my new urban garden is basil, which in Russian is базилик.

dedas Basilikum
esla albahaca
frle basilic


September 12th, 2008 — posted by Olga

The Russian word for spoon is ложка. If someone were using the word spoon in plural terms (spoons), they would say «ложки». When I eat dessert, I say “I need a spoon” «мне нужна ложка» and if I am serving dessert to a group of people, I would say, “I need spoons” «мне нужны ложки». Just like in America, Russia has a different word for teaspoon and tablespoon. The word for teaspoon is чайная ложка which comes from the word чай (meaning tea) while the word for tablespoon is стoловая ложка which comes from the word стол (meaning table).

Traditionally, Russian people use wooden spoons «деревянные ложки» to eat and play music with. Two wooden spoons were held in one hand back-to-back and the player would tap the spoons against each other thus, making a sound. Russian wooden spoons are elaborately painted with bright colors «яркие цвета» and detailed art work. These wooden spoons are truly works of art.