by Don  

Some years ago I read a book entitled “Scandinavian Humor and Other Myths,” which had the following insight: every ethnic group has some food to which it is irrationally attached. In the case of Scandinavians it is lutefisk. The Scots revel in abominable haggis, and the Mexicans in menudo.

For the Russians that food is сало. No comestible could be more perfectly designed to arouse fear and loathing in American hearts. It is essentially a chunk of fat from the back or belly of a pig. The сало may be smoke-cured, brine-cured, or salted. You can then eat it raw, or it can be chopped up small, fried, and served as a condiment. The first time that I had it, it was simply served raw in little white chunks on a plate, and I was incredibly grateful that my host had some Bulgarian sauce to pour on it, otherwise I don't think I could have kept it down. And if you take a slice of it and put it on some rye bread that has been rubbed with garlic, it is the perfect accompaniment to shots of vodka (source). Sometimes it is sprinkled with black pepper to make it pretty:

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Doesn't that look yummy? A marvelous article on сало can be found at appetissimo.ru, which lets us know that сало won't make us fat or clog our arteries and really should be consumed with hooch. And if you read Ukrainian, don't miss out on the Salo Lovers Club.

Here are some sample sentences.

Я люблю пожарить кусочки сала и есть их на хлебе с маслом. I love to fry up pieces of fatback and eat them on bread with butter.
— Мне холодно.
— Это потому, что ты такая худенькая. Тебе надо сало есть. Ты будешь здоровее и не будешь чувствовать холода.
“I'm cold.”
“That's because you are so skinny. You need to eat fatback. You'll be healthier and won't feel the cold.”
— 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 fatbook covered with chocolate?”
“I did, but really it is only caramel with some fatback flavoring, not real fatback.”
— Ой, как я пьян!
— Это потому, что не умеешь пить. Между рюмками надо закусывать хлебом с салом. Таким образом пьют здоровые люди.
“Oh, I am so drunk!”
“That's because you don't know how to drink right. Between shots you have to eat bread and fatback. That's how healthy people drink.”


Comment from: Max [Visitor]

“Я люблю пожарить кусочки сала и есть их на хлебе с маслом.”
Being Russian myself, I imagine picture of a some kind of yogi sitting on a slice of bread when i read such construction. It’s not a big mistake and many Russians will say the same, but it seems to be a bit clumsy to my taste. As for me, I’d rather say “Я люблю пожарить кусочки сала и есть их, положив на хлебе с маслом.”

11/30/09 @ 01:20
Comment from: LittleSusie [Visitor]  

I should admit that ’salo’ is a purely Ukranian obsession-food. We even have jokes about it here in Russia. Of course, it is well-known here, many people eat it, but it is, i repeat, a Ukranian typical thing.

11/29/09 @ 14:36
Comment from: bardak [Visitor]

сало - натуральный продукт -)
борщ, чеснок, черный хлеб, сало, что может быть вкуснее :)

11/28/09 @ 05:13
Comment from: Kristen [Visitor]

I have a soft spot in my heart (right alongside the clogged arteries) for сало. It got me through the summer of 1993 in St. P., when financial upheaval, my own lack of money, and the general disappearance of food from the shelves meant it was pretty tricky to eat. Things got better in August, when dachniki started selling their produce, but until that time, сало was my source of calories. I was hungry enough, at times, to crave it.

10/27/09 @ 09:07

Form is loading...