Ah, the holiday season is upon us. Trees are decorating the squares, streets are lit by flashing lights, and you are planning to max out your credit cards and happily eat your way to mid-January. If youТll be in Russia, prepare for some serious partying. The Russian version of a good party is застолье, a simple but packed word that means Уthe act and art of sitting around the tableФ: a long evening around a table laden with food and drink, filled with toasts, stories, conversation and jokes. This is very different from the American holiday cocktail party that is anathema to Russians: two hours of standing around trying to balance a plate of finger food and glass of egg nog while making polite chitchat with boring strangers. Ѕоже упаси! (God forbid!)
If you are the host or hostess for a traditional застолье, itТs good to know the dinner table lingo. First, you have to pry the guests away from the canapes in the living room and get them to the table. ѕрошу вас к столу! is the polite phrase for УPlease be seated.Ф Then you will have to urge them to dig in. IТve never figured out why guests sit staring at platefuls of salads and platters of закуски (starters) with hands frozen in their laps as if they were vegans at a barbeque. ”гощайтесь! (Please help yourself!) you say encouragingly. The shy ones can be cajoled with the very polite and slightly coquettish –азрешите за вами поухаживать? (May I serve you?) Among friends, you can pick up the serving spoon and their plates and say, ћожно вам положить? (May I put some on your plate?) With family, you can simply say, ƒавайте тарелку (Pass me your plate) and start piling it on.
Then thereТs the fluid concept of чуть-чуть. As we all know, чуть-чуть means Уjust a little bit,Ф but when you are a host, you are supposed to pretend that чуть-чуть really means Уas much as I can load on your plate before you shriek.Ф
If youТve done your job in the kitchen well, once guests finish the first round, theyТll be ready for more. ћожно ещЄ вам положить? (May I give you some more?) you ask. With friends, you can be blunter: то хочет добавки? (Who wants seconds?) One of my friends just asks: ѕовторим? (Literally, this means УShall we repeat the process?Ф) After a few rounds of this ritual, when you try to ply your guests with yet more food, they will show the universal sign for УIf I eat any more, IТll explodeФ: hand on protruding belly, expression of horror on face. ќй, нет Ч больше не могу. (Oh no, I canТt eat any more). Or the more explicit: Ќаелс€. (IТm full.) Or the pained: ќбъелс€. (IТm stuffed.)
At some quiet point in the evening, someone may sigh contently: ’орошо сидим. This phrase comes from the movie ќсенний марафон (Autumn Marathon) and literally means УWeТre sitting well.Ф What it really means is: IТm having a wonderful time Ч the food and drink hit the spot, the company is delightful, and I wish this could go on forever. If you hear that, you know your party has been a success.
Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.
Sergey Chernov is on vacation.
News source: times.spb.ru
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Culture news archive for 16 December' 2005.
Culture news archive for December' 2005.
Culture news archive for 2005 year.