September 01, 2000

How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As we like to say here: Каждому овощу – свой срок (For everything there is a season, or literally, “Every vegetable ripens at its own speed”). Given that this is harvest time, it seemed appropriate to consider how vegetables and fruit appear in our language.

Of course, the first vegetable among equals is our “second bread” (второй хлеб), the potato. Yet, as readers of Russian Life will know, the potato was not welcomed when Peter I brought it to Russia from Europe. The peasants’ infamous potato riots (картофельные бунты) were one of the earliest protests against reform from the top in Russia.

Luckily, those times are gone. The potato is now a beloved part of the Russian diet and local folklore. All children know the song “Антошка-Антошка – пойдём копать картошку” (“Little Anton, come on let’s go dig up potatoes”). And most adults recall Vysotsky’s song urging Russian workers and students not to dodge the famous “potato missions,” when hundreds of thousands of students and workers were sent to collective farms in the fall to help lazy Soviet farmers dig potatoes: Небось картошку все мы уважаем, если намять её с сольцой? (We all like potatoes don’t we? Especially if you mash them, and eat them with a little salt.)

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