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.


Comment from: TheOld [Visitor]  

There was a funny story with okroshka about crazy Russians:

“… and then they call their soup literally “Oh, Baby”

(You can use “крошка” to call a kid or a girlfriend)

08/18/10 @ 13:30
Comment from: Yegor [Visitor]

Kefir? Beer? Jeez, Kazan is going to look strange even to me. I always thought okroshka can only be based on kvass.

07/30/10 @ 08:50
Comment from: Bruce [Visitor]

OK, I’m picking this Russian up pretty fast. I read with ease “Coffee Capital” without thinking about sounding out each letter. Is this a good sign?

Don responds: Excellent! I’m excited for you. Every such step is a good sign indeed.

07/30/10 @ 05:43

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