Categories: "Food"

Чай (часть первая)

by Don  

The Russian word for tea is чай. It declines like this:


Чай first of all means the leaves of the tea plant and the drink made from those leaves. Sample sentences:

Ты будешь чай? Would you like some tea?
Мама пила чай с молоком и сахаром. Mom used to drink tea with milk and sugar.
Маша никогда не пьёт чай с лимоном, так как у неё аллергия на лимоны. Masha never drank tea with lemon since she was allergic to lemons.
Мой брат предпочитает чай без сахара. My brother prefers tea without sugar.

Just as in English, infusions and tisanes of other leaves are also called чай even when they contain no tea leaves:

Пей мятный чай перед сном, и у тебя будут хорошие сны. Drink mint tea before bed and you have sweet dreams.
Ромашковый чай помогает лучше спать. Chamomile tea helps you sleep well.

The plural of the word can mean “varieties of tea,” although it's an uncommon use of the word:

В китайском квартале Сан-Франциско продаютя всякие чаи. All sorts of tea are sold in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Every once in a while you will encounter an old-fashioned u-stem genitive form of this word. Even though it looks like a dative, it's a genitive in meaning, which adds the idea of “some” to the sentence:

Ты хочешь чаю? Do you want some tea?

You may also encounter an old-fashioned u-stem locative form of the word as well. Again, although it looks like a dative, the meaning is locational:

Тьфу! В моём чаю муха. Я чуть не проглотил её. Ugh! There's a fly in my tea. I almost swallowed it.

Куриный окорочок

by Tatiana  

In the early nineties, when the Soviet grocery stores were nearly empty, куриные окорочка “chicken legs” (the cut that has leg and thigh) became very popular. They were called ножки Буша “Bush’s legs” because of the trade agreement that was signed between Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush. The agreement made the United States the largest exporter of frozen chicken drumsticks to the former USSR (now the Russian Federation).

I remember when I was growing up they were everywhere: from a major celebration to a family dinner. Because they were cheap, housewives all over Russia would try to find more and more ways to prepare them. They would put them in various soups and cold salads or stuff them with liver pate and mushrooms.

— Что купить на рынке?
— Картошку, зелень и куриные окорочка.
“What should I buy at the market?”
“Potatoes, greens and chicken drumsticks.”
— Что ты собираешься готовить из куриных окорочков?
— Я думала их просто поджарить.
“What are you going to make out of chicken drumsticks?”
“I just thought I’d fry them.”
Можешь мне испечь куриный окорочок, а я почишу картошку для пюре? "Could you bake me a chicken drumstick and I will peel potatoes for the mashed potatoes."
— Ты читала, что говорят о куриных окорочках?
— Да, я слышала, что они вредные из-за гормонов, которые используются для выращивания куриц.
“Did you read what they say about chicken drumsticks?”
“Yes, I heard that they are unhealthy because of the hormones that are used to raise the chickens.”

Окорочок “drumstick” is diminutive for окорок, which means the leg and hip portion of an animal prepared as food.

Nomокорочок окорочка

Here is a funny cartoon called Масяня. It is very popular in Russia. In this particular episode the creators are poking fun at how Russians speak (or rather don't speak) English.


by Tatiana  

PhotoIt is interesting how similar sounding words mean different things in different languages. I wonder how it came about. Maybe a long time ago a group of friends visiting a foreign land dropped a word in a conversation, while speaking their native tongue. The natives heard it, liked the sound of it and decided to adopt it in their language. However, because they did not know what that word meant, they came up with a whole different meaning for it.

Take for example батон. In Russian it means an oblong loaf of white bread. However in English button, which sounds similar, has a completely different meaning.

Я люблю запах свежевыпеченного батона! I love the smell of a freshly baked loaf of white bread!

The word батон comes to Russian language from French bâton, which means stick, hence the elongated form of this particular bread loaf.

Nomбатон батоны
Genбатона батонов
Preбатоне батонах

There can also be «батон колбасы» “sausage loaf/stick” or «батончик» a candy bar.

— Что в магазине покупать?
— Возьми хлеб, молоко и батон варёной колбасы.
“What should I get at the store?”
“Get some bread, milk, and a bologna loaf.”
Шоколадный батончик «Сникерс»: съел и порядок! The Snickers chocolate bar: eat it and you're golden!

I remember when I first started learning English in primary school; I had this girl, Nastya, in my class. She was an “A” student and really good at languages. One time we were working on an exercise together and she decided to play a joke on me. She kept asking me different questions about батон, interchanging the meanings between English and Russian. Even though I knew what button meant in English, I kept falling for it. She would say:

Ты голодная? Хочешь батон? Are you hungry? Would you like a loaf of bread?

When I, being gullible, would say “sure,” she would laugh and exclaim:

Ты пуговицы ешь? You eat dress buttons?

I wonder whatever happened to that girl...

Селёдка под шубой

by Tatiana  

PictureRussians are very big on their холодные закуски “cold appetizers.” Amongst them meat and vegetable salads are very popular. These salads do not necessarily have lettuce in them. In fact most do not. Usually everything in these salads is pre-cooked; more often than not it is boiled. One of the most famous Russian salads is селёдка под шубой, which literally means “herring under a fur coat.”

No holiday table in Russia can go without селёдка под шубой, although I've noticed that my American friends are not too fond of it… to say the least! &#59;) Personally, I am not a big fan of fish (except maybe for smoked salmon my parents make), but I really like this salad, perhaps because it reminds me of my carefree childhood without all the bill-paying and responsibility-taking.

The main ingredients are beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, mayo, herring and some parsley or scallions for decoration. We never add any salt to this salad but the herring makes up for it. After the beets, potatoes and carrots are boiled, they are cut into cubes. Mom pours boiling water over the onions and lets them soak for about a minute. This little trick lets the onions keep their taste but gets rid of the strong odor. After all the ingredients are fully prepared, we layer them, alternating vegetables, mayo, and herring. Then after decorating it with the greens, we leave the dish in the the fridge for a couple of hours. There you have it, the famous Russian селёдка под шубой!

«Приятного аппетита»! "Enjoy"! :)


by Don  

The Russian word for mushroom is гриб, a perfectly regular end-stressed noun:


There is a huge cultural difference between Russians and Americans in regards to mushrooms. An American looks at a mushroom in the forest and thinks, “Careful! It might be poisonous!” A Russian looks at a mushroom in the forest and thinks, “My little forest friend! I shall pickle you in oil and spices and consume you with friends in the company of vodka and bliny!”

Photo of mushroom
Белый гриб — porcini
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

I never used to eat mushrooms. After all, why would a sane human being deliberately put a fungus that grows in the dirt into his mouth? But then I was served home-preserved mushrooms in Russia. Heaven! The Russians know how to spice, bake, can, wrap, and fry mushrooms better than anyone else on the planet. Now it's a rare day that I don't eat mushrooms, or at least do a little interpretive dance in honor of mushrooms after my morning shower.

В России растёт свыше двухсот видов съедобных грибов. More than two hundred varieties of edible mushrooms grow in Russia.
Вчера в ресторане нам подали блюдо из грибов с сыром. Yesterday at the restaurant we were served a dish made of mushrooms and cheese.
Под грибом отдыхала улитка. A snail rested beneath the mushroom.
— Какой гриб любят русские больше всего?
— Наверно, белый гриб.
“What mushroom do the Russians like best of all.”
“Probably porcini.”

In English everbody knows the phrase “mushroom cloud.” The Russian equivalent is «ядерный гриб» “nuclear mushroom.” That's not particularly surprising. What would surprise an English speaker is that the phrase is used in Russian phrases that mean “really ugly”:

Лайл Ловетт отличный музыкант, но он страшен как ядерный гриб! Lyle Lovett is a great musician, but he's as ugly as a mushroom cloud!

Photo of mushroom cloud

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