by Don  

Many American students visiting Russia for the first time also eat foods that they have never eaten before, and among those foods are свёкла beets. That is not to say that no one eats beets in the US, but you mostly find them eaten by families whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe or by families in farming communities. You will find them in salad bars, of course, but if you watch carefully you will notice that people eat them in very small quantities. Here's how the word declines:


You will note that there is a plural form of the word, but in fact the Russians mostly use the word in the singular where English speakers would use it in the plural.

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Why do Russians eat so many beets? Probably because it's a hardy plant that grows well in cold regions. Among the most popular Russian beet dishes are винегрет, a salad made of boiled beets and other vegetables, and борщ, the world-famous beet soup. Sugar is also extracted from the sugar beet.

Мама приготовила салат из отварной свёклы. Такой салат называется винегретом. Mom made a salad of boiled beets. That kind of salad is called vinaigrette.
В сахарной свёкле содержится тот же сахар, который можно получить из сахарного тростника. (adapted from this source) Sugar beets contain the same sugar that you can get from sugar cane.
Не забудь купить свёклу! Don't forget to buy beets!
Моя бабушка всегда красила губы соком, сделанным из отварной свёклы. My grandmother always colored her lips with a juice made from boiled beets.

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