The Borshch Battles

Image by liz west

About a thousand years ago, give or take 500 years, some Greek traders came to the southern part of what is now Russia bringing a tasty grain from the East. Because Greeks brought it, Russians called it греческий злак (Greek cereal). Today it is commonly called гречка (“greeky”).

About 150 years ago this grain began to arrive on American shores in the bags of people from Eastern-Central Europe and the Russian Empire. They made it into каша (porridge). But the English speakers thought каша was the name of the grain itself. So they called it kasha in the U.S. even though it already had a name in English: buckwheat groats.

And since some of those bags with гречка belonged to Jewish emigrants, and some of those Jewish emigrants made delicious little pies called kasha knishes they sold from handcarts, Americans decided kasha — aka гречка aka buckwheat groats — was the proprietary food of Jewish people. To this day, they sell this grain in the Jewish Food section of grocery stores…

To read more visit The Moscow Times.

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