Categories: "Food"

Вареники (часть вторая)

by Bella  

When I was a kid, my favorite Sunday breakfast was cherry vareniky. My dad was great at making them, and I was great at helping and supervising. Almost every Sunday I would beg my dad, «Пожалуйста, сделай мне вареники с вишней!» "Please, make me cherry vareniki!"

A couple of weeks ago I decided to learn how to make this treat for myself. «Бэлла, вареники легко сделать» "Bella, vareniki are easy to make," my mom declared, so together we made a big batch. I invited some friends over, and by the end of the night there were no vareniki left - не было больше вареников!

The word вареники roughly translates to "little boiled things." Basically they are crescent-shaped stuffed dumpling. The fillings range from berries to meat to cheese. Often they are topped with sour cream. It is an easy and convenient food to make and freeze, therefore it is very popular in Russia and Ukraine. In fact, the city of Cherkasy, Ukraine, put up a big monument featuring the folk hero Cossak Mamay in front of a giant varenik!


by Don  

The Russian word for chocolate is шоколад, which is a perfectly regular noun. Theoretically it occurs in the plural, but it is fairly uncommon to encounter the plural form:


In Russian sometimes people use the genitive form of a noun to mean “a small quantity of” or “some”:

Ты хочешь шоколада? Would you like some chocolate?

Шоколад is one of those words that has an alternative old genitive form that ends in -у. Such a form is called the second genitive. When it is used in the meaning of “some,” we call that usage the partitive genitive. It's entirely possible that you might encounter a sentence like this:

Ты хочешь шоколаду? Would you like some chocolate?

Those second genitives are old-fashioned. You are more likely to hear it from the mouth of a Russian бабушка than from someone under thirty years of age.

When you go to Russia you will encounter all sorts of chocolate that you have never seen before. My favorite one this summer was this one:

The line беречь от женщин means “keep away from women.” I about died laughing when I first encountered it. I wonder what happens when you feed it to women? Perhaps they turn into gremlins?

Here are some sample sentences:

— Володь, что такое эскимо?
— Это мороженое, покрытое шоколадом.
“Vladimir, what is an ‘Eskimo’?”
“It's ice cream covered with chocolate.”
Я просто не могу жить без шоколада. I just can't live without chocolate.
— Ты любишь шоколад?
— Люблю, но у меня появляются прыщики от него.
— Это полнейший бред. У тебя прыщики, потому что ты никогда не моешь лицо.
“Do you like chocolate?”
“I do, but it gives me pimples.”
“That's complete bunk. You have pimples because you never wash your face.”
— Ты слышал, что одесский завод производит сало в шоколаде?

— Слышал, но в действительности это лишь карамель с привкусом сала, а не настоящее сало.
“Did you hear that a factory in Odessa produces fatback covered with chocolate?”

“I did, but really it is only caramel with some fatback flavoring, not real fatback.”


by Don  

Sometimes Russians seem insane, particularly in their desire to drink hot tea and eat hot soup for lunch in the middle of summer. But they have one soup that is cold that they also like, and it is called окрошка. We don't have any special name for it in English, so we just transliterate it as okroshka. Essentially it is a cold vegetable soup for which the base is kvas, a beerish liquid made of a mildly fermented bread mash, which has almost no alcohol content. If you are going to have soup in summer, it makes sense to my American mind to have this relatively light and cool one. Here's a picture of the окрошка from the Трали-Вали cafeteria at one of the universities in Kazan:

There are quite a few variations on окрошка. If you want to specify that you are making it with квас, then you call it окрошка на квасе. If you use water and кефир instead of квас, then you call it окрошка на кефире. Yesterday morning I was sitting at my currently favorite overpriced (but very tasty) coffee place, Кофейня «Капитал», in Kazan when I spotted this advertisement:

It says that they will make окрошка special for you not just with kvas, not just with kefir, but, if you prefer, with BEER! That's right, окрошка на пиве! You can have it made with dark beer, light beer, or honey beer! Beer soup for lunch... does that not sound like redneck heaven??? Plus they will be happy to add beef tongue, boiled beef, or sausage. See if you can figure out what the остальные ингредиенты "remaining ingredients" are from the sign.

Here are some sample sentences:

Окрошка на светлом пиве мне не очень понравилась. I didn't care for the okroshka made with light beer.
Мама всегда готовит окрошку на кефире. Mom always makes kefir-based okroshka.
Я считаю, что редиска в окрошке не нужна. I think you can do without the radishes in okroshka.
Бабушка всегда угощала внуков окрошкой. Grandmother always treated the grandkids to okroshka.


by Don  

Although the generic word for ice cream in Russian is мороженое, you also need to know the word пломбир. Ordinary мороженое per Russian standards contains 2.5 - 4% milk fat, which in the States we used to call "ice milk" instead of "ice cream," although nowadays it is sometimes called "low-fat ice cream". Пломбир according to the same standards has 12-13% milk fat. If you think that that makes пломбир smooth and creamy and delicious, you are exactly right. Most US ice cream has high fat content, so пломбир can usually simply be translated into English simply as "ice cream".

Пломбир comes in all sorts of forms, just like regular мороженое. My most recent taste was in this fun brand:

Once you unwrap it, it's basically an ice cream with a chocolate coating:

I came across a couple off ads recently with the word in them. This first one is on an ice cream stand, and it means "For the world, peace; and for you, plombir." It's cute because it rhymes:

This ad says, "Gold Standard is plombir #1 in Russia." Gold Standard, obviously, is a brand name.

And here are some sample sentences:

Я скучаю по пломбиру. (source) I miss [eating] ice cream.
Пойду за пломбиром. I'm heading out to get ice cream.
Невообразимая роскошь на борту самолета — угощение пломбиром с долькой киви. (source) One unimaginable luxury on board the airplane is [that passengers are] treated to ice cream with a slice of kiwi.
Качество украинского пломбира удивило инспекторов. (source) The quality of Ukrainian ice cream has surprised inspectors.


by Don  

The most essential sauce of western cookery is doubtless mayonnaise, which in Russian is майонез. It is a perfectly regular noun, so it's declension causes no difficulty.

Although the Russians' love of alcohol is legendary, and their love of sour cream is nearly obsessive, their passion for mayonnaise is equally astonishing. For instance, I was at a cafe this morning and ordered manty, which are kind of like enormous ravioli. Doubtless hearing a bit of an accent in my voice, the cashier asked whether I wanted ketchup or mayo with them. Well, duh, I know the answer to that one: we are in Russia so it has to be mayo! Here's a picture of the manty. Note the quantity of mayo on them:

The Russians also garnish soups with a dollop of mayo:

If you mix mayo with 100 grams of any vegetable matter, then they call it a salad. One of the most famous Russian salads is called «сельдь под шубой» "herring under a fur coat," which when you first look at it seems to have little mayo:

Let's examine the recipe. We start with the ingredients:

  • 300 g herring, shredded
  • 300 g grated, boiled potato
  • 300 g grated, boiled carrot
  • 300 g grated, boiled beets
  • 300 g grated apple
  • 150 g grated
  • mayo

Now the procedure:

  1. Place the potatoes on a serving dish. Even them out. Cover with mayo.
  2. Put the herring on top. Cover with mayo.
  3. Put the onion on top.
  4. Put the carrots on top of the onions. Cover with mayo.
  5. Put the apples on the carrots. Cover with mayo.
  6. Cover with beets. Even the layer out.
  7. Garnish with mayo.

To the American palate this quantity of mayonnaise is simply grotesque. We immediately think of the clogging of our carotid arteries and our inability to have six-pack abs or a shapely waistline. But this is perfectly normal for a Russian dish. And truth to tell, once we get past our cultural knee-jerk reaction, it tastes just fine. So here are some sample sentences:

Бутерброды без майонеза для меня не бутерброды. (source) To me, sandwiches without mayonnaise are simply not sandwiches.
Как относиться к майонезу? (title of this article) What should we think about mayonnaise?
Всегда заправляю окрошку майонезом. I always garnish okroshka soup with mayonnaise.
Для многих блюд майонез незаменим. Например, с чем ещё можно делать салат из крабовых палочек? (source) Mayonnaise is irreplaceable in many dishes. For instance, what else could you make crab salad with?
Я майонез прекрасно научилась заменять натуральным йогуртом или оливковым маслом. Конечно, это не так вкусно, но для меня главное — польза. (source) I have learned how to substitute natural yogurt or olive oil for mayonnaise. Of course, it doesn't taste as good, but for me the most important thing is healthiness.
Я почти всё ем с майонезом, суп, щи, салат, яичница и конечно не забываю добавить майонез в жаренную картошку и пельмешки.ммм (source) I eat almost everything with mayonnaise: soup, cabbage soup, salad, fried eggs, and of course I don't forget to add mayonnaise to fried potatoes and pelmeni. Yum.

Note: the н is pronounced hard in this word, thus [маянэз].

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