Russian Language Blog

Nourish Your Body and Soul with “Food of the Gods” Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Culture

The abundance of summer inspired me to put together this experimental post. This post/show combo provides a healthy dose of Russian, while at the same time helps you discover the magic of… onion (лук), horseradish (хрен), radish едька), and tomato (помидор) 🙂 . The name of the show is Пища Богов (Food of the Gods). 

For maximum benefit, you can read my summary of what is being discussed first, then watch the show with a print out of this post in hand 🙂 . Feel free to pause and rewind as needed.

While other Olympians drink ambrosia, Artemis, an ancient Greek goddess of hunting, regularly consumes her own elixir. The recipe is kept in secret known only to a few nymphs. After one of the nymphs leaks the recipe to regular mortals, it becomes available to us all. Here is it:

finely chop 1 yellow apple, 3 golden apricots, and 5 ripe grapes;

use mortar & pestle for further crushing;

add 2 drops of Artemisia Absinthium (полынь) extract;

finally, add 7 drops of strange, fowl smelling liquid. This last ingredient was kept from mortals for the longest time. The magic ingredient was onion juice.

Ancient myths claim that onion is a gift from Gods given to people to overcome difficult times.

Лук от ста недуг (old Russian saying which means {eat} onion for a hundred ailments).

Historians of all times mention using onion for curing many health conditions.

The ancients also noticed the yin and yang shapes of the onion, if properly sliced. Onion is considered an aphrodisiac in many cultures.

Egyptians thought that concentric onion rings contain information about the universe. This opinion was shared by the astrologists of ancient Babylon, Sumer, and Assyria.

Emil Biktashev (Эмиль Бикташев), a Russian physicist who experienced clinical death, was a heavy meat eater in the past. After his near-death experience, he drastically changed his dietary habits due to what was revealed to him on “the other side.” He is now a vegetarian who claims that onion curbs your appetite and helps you see the world more objectively. Biktashev says that every fruit and vegetable is in a way an equivalent of a certain human quality or trait and bears within itself a certain divine message.

Julius Caesar was frequently associated with the smell of onion. He apparently used to rub onion paste in his hair in an attempt to combat early hair loss.

The notes of Catherine the Great’s chef also contained some intriguing information. She was rarely involved in the food making process, with the exception of the vegetable salad preparation in late summer and early fall. That particular salad was consumed by the queen daily. The salad consisted of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, and thinly sliced onion rings which underwent a brief encounter with boiling water. The chef also knew that this wasn’t just any old onion. The onion that went in this salad came from a secret patch where it was sown by young single girls in total silence on a Saturday morning. The girls also walked around the patch 3 times communicating certain wishes to the onion seeds. It was believed that the onion that came from this patch contained the energy of youth and seduction, as well as certain energy that was communicated to it through the wishing process. The very same onion was also used for salads served at important negotiations; it helped create good vibrations and productive outcomes.

The onion was commonly used by both rich and poor in Russia. The common folk associated onion with land fertility health.

You might find it surprising but onion has more sugar than watermelon.

According to French researchers, onion is one of the very few things that can be used for treating dementia; it is also used for treating cancer. There is a clinic in Japan that uses exclusively onion and garlic for treatment.

Another particularly famous root in Russia is horseradish or хрен. Хрен was the name of one of the Russian pagan gods. Хрен was the god of wisdom. It is believed that the plant inherited this name from the pagan god due to its numerous health benefits; it is also believed that it helps you get in touch with your subconscious.

Horseradish is a very resilient plant, it can grow virtually anywhere including Greenland. In the old days Russian fields that were not being used for other crops were frequently covered with horse radish. As a matter of fact, Peter the Great was able to determine which lands were not properly utilized by observing whether they were covered with horseradish or not. He was then able to confiscate the lands and redistribute them to those who showed better promise in agriculture.

Peter the Great himself used to carry a horseradish root everywhere. Certain dishes and drinks in Russia had horseradish as the main ingredient. Horseradish vodka/infusion (хреновая настойка) was present in all Russian bars during Peter’s reign. This drink was believed to give you your strength and energy back.

Modern scientists discovered that horseradish kills most types of harmful bacteria.

Valentina Bereza celebrated her 70th birthday not so long ago. She claims she is totally healthy after being in 2 terrific accidents that broke nearly all her bones. She says the pain and suffering from her injuries was very hard to take but after waking up with yet another headache and asking God for a cure, she heard a voice telling her to use horseradish from her own yard for healing. She wasn’t sure where to begin but she started by grating it, putting it in cheesecloth and applying it to the source of pain. A couple of years later she is completely pain free.

Radish is another particularly beneficial root that holds a special place in human history. Apollo used to say that the radish is worth its weight in gold. Radish was frequently used as sacrificial root.

Radish is very rich in choline which is essential for a number of inner cellular processes.

A few years ago Aleksandr Vlasov discovered daikon (Japanese radish). He started growing and consuming it regularly. Daikon has been cultivated and consumed in Japan for centuries. Vlasov believes that the radish helped him get rid of chronic fatigue; it even allowed him to enjoy honey – something he was very allergic to for the last forty years.

Thanks to Columbus, tomatoes made its way to Europe from America where they were cultivated by Aztecs. In France as well as Russia, tomato was considered unfit for eating for quite some time. Gradually though it found its way into our diets. In Russia, they used to associate tomato with passion, physical attraction, and fertility.

A popular urban legend holds that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita,though recent research casts doubt on this legend.” (this Wikipedia piece pretty much sums up what is being said in the final part of the show).

Give the show a fair try and listen all the way through. I hope it inspires you to give these simple vegetables a fair try as well, after all “we are what we eat.”

Всего хорошего!

P.S.  More episodes of this show about all kinds of interesting foods are available on YouTube 🙂 .


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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u