KEY WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
Хотите чаю? Would you like a cup of tea?
Домашнее клубничное варенье
home-made strawberry preserve
Пирожки stuffed pastries
Без соли и хлеба – худая беседа
Good conversation, when it is given to guests with bread and salt
На вкус и цвет товарища(-ей) нет To each his own
Grammar and Cultural Notes
1) Пироги (small, oval-shaped pies stuffed with meat, cabbage, potatoes, or rice and egg mix) are popular as an afternoon snack with tea. The philosophy behind Russian cuisine is that a meal should provide an opportunity not only to satisfy one’s hunger, but also to engage in pleasant conversation with others. This philosophy is demonstrated by the saying Без соли и хлеба – худая беседа. It also underlines the significance of bread in Russian culture, and sharing bread and salt has become a common metaphor for friendship and trust. The saying На вкус и цвет товарища(-ей) нет confirms that tastes differ. Finally, take notice that Russians tend to use proverbs and sayings more than Americans do, so you should know some of these proverbs because they will turn up often. I hope you find some sayings that you like, and perhaps can put to good use.
2) In informal conversations with Russians, you begin to notice that large numbers of everyday words are given suffixes such as – -ик-, -ек-/-очк-. These forms are collectively use as ‘diminutives’, denoting smallness. In the conversation between two ladies you can hear ‘а сахарочку можно?’ In this case the intended meaning is not smallness but politeness, tenderness or some related emotion. Diminutives are an important part of friendliness and politeness in everyday Russian.