Olearius's Russia (17th century)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sat Apr 20 07:33:08 UTC 2002

(OFF TOPIC:  From the Easy Everything 24-hour internet cafe, on wonderful 42nd Street in New York City, posting Olearius cites to old Fleetwood Mac and Soul Train songs.)

Translated and edited by Samuel H. Baon
Stanford University Press
Standford, Calif.

   OED cites the 1662 J. Davies translation of Olearius 378 times.  The book was published in French at Paris in 1659.  It's a classic.
   I'm using the 1967 edition and it seems to be pretty good.  "Vodka" is EVERYWHERE here.  The NYPL doesn't seem to have the 1662 edition, but how could "vodka" not be there?
   There are valuable passages on Russian food traditions, including Easter eggs.

Pg. 36:  ...several loaves of wheat and rye bread and an _ahm_ of Rhine wine.
(OED has 1502 "aam," but not this spelling--ed.)

Pg. 40:  The cemetery was full of Russian women, who had spread upon the graves and gravestones beautifully sewn, vari-colored handkerchiefs, on which they set dishes containing three or four long pancakes and pies, two or three pieces of dried fish, and colored eggs.

Pg. 51:  Since he still wanted to drink, we served him vodka and Spanish wine...

Pg. 53:  To welcome us the voevoda sent to our inn barrels of beer and mead and a cask of vodka.

Pg. 98:  ...personally handed the ambassadors and each of the higher officers of the suite a cup of strong vodka.  Then he raised a large gold cup and proposed toasts...

Pg. 100:  On April 17, Holy Easter Day, there was great rejoicing among the Russians, partly because of the Resurrection of Christ, partly because it was the end of their long fast.  That day, and for fourteen days thereafter, practically everyone--notables and commoners, young and old--carries colored eggs.  In every street a multitude of egg vendors sit, hawking boiled eggs decorated in various colors.  When they meet on the street, they greet each other with kisses on the mouth.

Pg. 100:  All during Holy Easter not only did good freinds visit (each other) in private homes, but everyone--lay and ecclesiastical people, men, and women--avidly patronized simple _kabaki_, that is beer, mead, and vodka houses.

Pg. 121:  In every country estate there is a specially built house called a _riga_, in which the unthreshed grain is placed over the bems.
(OED for this "riga"?--ed.)

Pg. 122:  This variety is similar in size and type to ordinary melons, but its shape is that of a lamb.  Therefore the Russians call it _baranets_--(lamb).

Pg. 138:  When he was invited to dinner along with the pristav, there began a bitter quarrel over precedence.  _Bledin syn, sukin syn, butzfui matir_ (son of a whore, son of a bitch, fuck your mother) and other vile words were the choice terms with which they vehemently belabored each other.
(Is "fuck" in the 1662 translation?--ed.)

Pg. 143:  They drink mainly vodka, and at get-togethers, or when one person visits another, respect is rendered by serving one or two "cups of wine," that is, vodka.
(Again, how could "vodka" not be there in 1662?--ed.)

Pg. 144:  A case of this sort involving the Grand Ambassador sent to His Majesty King Charles IX of Sweden occurred in 1608.  He became so intoxicated by the strongest vodka--even though he had been warned of its fiery power--that on the day he was to have been brought to an audience he was found dead in bed.

Pg. 144:  He answered, with the customary "Fuck your mother"...

Pg. 145:  It is true that in the monasteries they drink no wine, vodka, mead, or (Pg. 146--ed.) strong beer, but only _kvas_, that is weak beer or small beer.
(OED's early spellings are "quass"--ed.)

Pg. 155 (Chapter Three, Households and Social Life):  Their daily food consists of groats, beets, cabbages, cucumbers, and fresh or salt fish.

Pg. 156:  They have a special kind of pastry, much eaten in Butter-week, which they call a _pirog_.  It is like a pie or, more exactly, a fritter, though somewhat longer; it is filled with minced fish or meat and onion, and is baked in butter, or during fasts, in vegetable oil.  The taste is not unpleasant.  Everyone treats a guest with these, if he means to receive him well.
   They have a very common food which they call _ikra_, made of the roe of large fish, especially sturgeon and whitefish.  (...) Ikra is salted on the Volga, chiefly at Astrakhan.  Some of it is dried in the sun.  They fill hundreds of barrels with it and then send it to other countries, especially to Italy, where it is considered a delicacy and is called _caviaro_.
(OED has the 1662 "ikra."  OED has "pirog" from 1854.  The 1662 translation must be re-read!--ed.)

Pg. 157:  The drink of the common people is _kvas_--comparable to weak beer or small beer--and also beer, mead, and vodka.

Pg. 276:  The Greeks celebrate similar feasts in their churches, and also distribute such little pieces of consecrated bread, which they call "morsels of love"...

Pg. 320:  Toward evening a fisherman brought to the ship a fish we did not know, which they call a _chiberik_.
(Not in OED?--ed.)

Pg. 326:  They have apples, quinces, walnuts, large yellow melons, and also watermelons, which the Russians call _arbuzy_, the Turks and Tartars _karpus_ (as they are very refreshing), and the Persians _hinduane_ (as Hindus first brought them to Persia).

(OFF TOPIC:  3:32 a.m., and I'm typing this to "Shake Your Booty.")

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