January 01, 2000

Honoring a noble fish


nlike the ancient Greeks, who deemed fish plebian, Russians honor fish in their cuisine, from the mundane herring to the “noble” salmon and sturgeon. So it should come as no surprise that fish frequently appears in Russian folklore. The cunning pike is a hero in many fairy tales. Hence the proverb, “na to i shchuka v more, shtob karas’ ne dremal”—the pike is in the sea to keep the carp awake. In other words, there should always be someone to keep you on your toes.

But not all fish associations are positive. If you’re trying hard, but in vain, you’re “like a fish hitting itself against the ice” (kak ryba ob lyod). And someone whose eyes lack any spark of intellect or creativity is said to have “fish eyes” (ryb’i glaza). 

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