Posts Tagged ‘worst’

The Worst Russian Language Course Ever

September 3rd, 2009

Let me tell you about the single worst course I ever used as I was studying Russian. It had one of those slightly hyperbolic statements like, “Become Utterly Fluent in Russian Before You Finish Reading This Sentence!” I don’t remember the actual name, but it was two cassettes in a small red plastic container, with an accompanying booklet.

Here are some phrases I do remember from the course. I actually wrote these down, simply for the laugh factor:

“I have six buckets!”

“The goats were running quickly along the sidewalk.”

“Uncle Vanya is sleeping. Don’t flush the toilet.”

These three were in a row, one after the other. Aside from the ridiculousness of the phrases, there was absolutely no organization to them. A compilation of completely random sentences, with no explanation. I’m amazed the speakers read them without laughing. Actually, I’m sure they probably did laugh. I’d love to hear the outtakes!

Whatever course that was, it was the worst, hands down. I actually had a similar experience here in Sevastopol as I helped the owner of an English language school create additional materials for his course. He wanted me, a native speaker of English, to record a list of words and phrases. It started well enough, with the names of foods, then body parts, and so on.

Then came phrases.

Mind you, I took home the sheet I was reading from, so I’m just re-typing. In this section, the phrases were “If/Why” constructions. The first few were reasonable: “If you’re hungry, why not have lunch?” and so. But the sixth one down was:

“If Fred is late, why is he singing?”

I couldn’t really concentrate after that. The question plagued me. I kept thinking about Fred. Like, what’s up with that, Fred? Here you are, late as always, you have people waiting on you, and you’re all happy and singing? I had to keep reading into the microphone, but Fred was always on my mind…

“If it’s dark, why are you reading?”

I bet they’re talking about you again, Fred. First you sing when you’re late, and now you’re reading without the light on. What’s gotten into you? It’s like I don’t even know you anymore…

“If it’s hot, why not let it cool down.”

Why not? Because Fred’s a rebel. I’m sure he likes eating food that’s way too hot. That’s how he rolls. Would you expect anything less from a singing late guy who reads in the dark?

I think I’ll mix those two courses together, and create a whole new one. That horrible course I bought to “Master Russian”, and this one where I was reading all those sentences. Make my own crazy phrases. I’ll call it:

“If Uncle Vanya is sleeping, why did you flush the toilet, Fred?”

Food in Russian and Ukraine: Of Trees and Pigs

August 30th, 2009
A common food in Ukraine

The worst food in Russia - Salo

One of you guys asked about the FOOD IN UKRAINE, which I’ll get to, at least in part. Today I’ll cover the worst Russian food. The reader also asked about sports here, but all I’ve seen is soccer, soccer,soccer, and a bit of street hoops. Ok, so here’s today’s blog post:

This city is so green and lush. If the trees had it their way, there wouldn’t be a building or even a brick in sight, but instead one endless forest. And since there’s virtually no landscaping whatsoever (which is GREAT, by the way. How I despise those noisy, polluting leafblowers which are ubiquitous in the U.S. and do nothing other than blow leaves and debris from the sidewalk, onto the street and into the air. Can anyone say broom?) What was I saying? Oh, yeah, so since there’s no landscaping, the grass grows full length. As do the weeds. It’s a jungle out here. And it often looks like it’s snowing; there’s some tree from which falls this cottony/snowy substance. Anyway, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived in so verdant a city.

This is a bit of a non-sequitor, but they eat pig fat here. In my opinion Salo (pig fat) is the worst food in Russian/Ukraine. It’s not pickled, not fried, not prepared in any way, in fact. Just a white slab of pig fat, which they then slice into thin strips and eat on bread or crackers. I’ve been offered it more than once in the little time I’ve been here. My landlord Oleg offered to leave me his pig fat in the fridge, as incentive for moving in. Pig fat, you say? Hand me that lease immediately!

Anyway, more about food in Ukraine: For breakfast I either cook kasha (which is boiled oats. That makes it porridge, I guess? Tastes decent enough, and cheap.) Or I eat muslix cereal.
The other meals vary. Every day I have Greek Salad, which is delicious and consists of the following: diced tomatoes and cukes, olives, fetta cheese, diced yellow peppers, and a very tasty light dressing similar to Italian. So, that’s a given, whether I make it at home or buy it in some cafe.

I like pelmeni, which are basically small raviolis with various fillings. They cook in seconds. I occasionally make pasta, but you can’t find spaghetti sauce here. I’ve bought several versions of their spaghetti sauce, and they’re simply ketchup. Yuch. I also do chicken and rice sometimes. And smoked fish on fresh bread. I would kill for good cheese just haven’t found any cheese whatsoever that’s worth commenting on. And toss in lots of baked bread products. The other day the bakery made this mini loaf of what was basically pound cake with a thicker, darker crust. Oh my God was that delicious. I have GOT to find a different route home!

And there you have it. A snapshot of the food in Ukraine.