Cheap Like Borscht

I thought when I left Winnipeg for the last time in 1988 that I would  never live in another place so full of Ukrainians. There  are hordes of people of Ukrainian ancestry  in Manitoba, and they weave a fascinating influence into the tapestry of region. There are elementary schools in Winnipeg that have Ukrainian language  immersion classes. You can get Ukrainian food in lots of places.

Imagine my surprise when we moved to western  ND and found ourselves fifteen miles from Belfield,  a vibrant  Ukrainian enclave of immigrants and their descendants with a strong cultural identity and customs, including  a Cultural Institute,  Ukrainian churches, and a summer dance festival.  There are locally made perogies in all the grocery  stores here.

I was talking with a Belfield native last week, a foster mom and Licensed Addiction Counselor, who is married to a Ukrainian national who immigrated about ten years ago. She noticed my diploma  from the University of Manitoba,  and asked how expensive tuition must have been for me, since I was a foreign student.  I told her that tuition was “Cheap like Borscht”,  as there was no differential cost to out of Province students.  She was amazed about my description of tuition costs, since the only person she ever heard use  that phrase was her immigrant husband.

The foster mom found her husband in  Winnipeg at a Ukrainian dance  competition.  “Cheap like Borscht ” is a common phrase  in Winnipeg.   I assumed it was something everyone said, but apparently not.  I think it is a lovely phrase.

What are your favorite turns of phrase?  Got any good Borscht recipes?

59 thoughts on “Cheap Like Borscht”

  1. I have a coworker who has a couple of catchphrases that pop up a lot. She says “All righty Aphrodite!” as an affirmation, and “Dang, Daniel, dang!” to express dismay. I don’t think I’ve heard those anywhere before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The language is filled with phrases whose origins are unknown to modern speakers. “A flash in the pan” originated with flintlock rifles, for example. I think “turn of phrase” might have originated with wood turning.

      Well, I just checked this on the internet. The first known user of this expression was Ben Franklin in 1779. And, yes, the speculation is that wood turning might be the inspiration.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. We often saw ads for pierogy molds being hawked by this rather famous Winnipeg pro wrestler named Mad Dog Vachon. I have no idea why a French Canadian would have been the choice by the ad agency.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One way to learn how much idiomatic language you use is to have a few conversations with someone who doesn’t share your first language. We have had a French student staying with us for a few weeks (we hosted another student from her school last summer) – especially stuff that doesn’t translate well. Pop culture references, even “old” ones, can add to that – referring to downtown Minneapolis as “Oz” or heading off to see the wizard… pay no attention to the man behind the curtain… that’s just one book/movie.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. P.S. Since I have been spotty at best… a brief defense of social media from yesterday’s discussions: a person I know (who is now an adult) is very introverted and went through a period of difficult social anxiety during those awful middle school/early high school years. He had a hard time with face-to-face interactions, but could get home from school and have good interactions with friends through social media – it actually helped him figure out better how to read signals and understand the humans who were his friends. He could talk about things in a more comfortable way through that milieu. Unlike some kids where that sort of interaction can be toxic, it was a help for him and helped him deepen friendships that might otherwise have fallen away. It’s a perspective that I keep in mind as I think about how I use social media.

      Liked by 6 people

  4. A friend’s favorite saying: “Hold ‘er, Newt, she’s headed for the rhubarb” (not original with him, I saw it in print somewhere…but still like it)

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Borscht always takes me back to the Bridges’ household and their Russian “maid” Tamara. Tamara loved to make soup. Though she was hired to clean, she’d much rather make soup, and she’d often stop on the way to the embassy to pick up some fresh veggies from a local market. Tamara, of course, was Russian and not Ukrainian, but she knew how to turn a few roots, a handful of cabbage and some fresh herbs into a delicious soup. I think of her whenever I have a pot of borscht simmering on the stove.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’m sometimes surprised when reading material from the middle of the nineteenth century to come upon a saying that was common enough back then to be used in a book and is still familiar to me in my lifetime. Two examples I can think of:
    Snug as a bug in a rug
    Like a duck on a junebug.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Two expressions I particularly like (and have mentioned here before) are seemingly left over from the days when horses dominated the culture:
    He (or she) looks like he’s been rode hard and put away wet.
    Best horse in the glue factory.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I enjoy spoonerisms – where, i.e., beginning consonants are accidentally switched. Examples would be:
    – “fighting a liar” instead of “lighting a fire”, or
    – “nosey little cook” instead of “cozy little nook”

    My personal favorite was coined by Nephew – “the thot plickens”…

    Liked by 4 people

  9. OT – Don’t know that it can be considered OT to talk about the looming pandemic, but thought I’d offer this up as my contribution to staving off the virus.

    “Strictly Germ-Proof”

    The Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup
    Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up;
    They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;—
    It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized.

    They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;
    They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;
    They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope
    And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.

    In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears;
    They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;
    They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand
    And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band.

    There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play;
    They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day;
    And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup—
    The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.

    by Arthur Guiterman

    Liked by 5 people

  10. My friend Paul learned a new phrase last summer: “19 to the dozen”. Said in reference to someone who talks too much. But certainly could be anything in excess.
    More later.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. OT- I just learned that a colleague of mine and his wife are stranded aboard the cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco, and she is supposed to have chemotherapy next week.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A lot of people think of a cruise as a dream vacation. I have always been Leary and haves avoided them. This is why. So many things can go wrong.


        1. There’s a billboard that recently went up along one of my frequently travelled routes. It says “Boating. You Deserve It.”

          My first thought is, What on earth have I done to deserve that?

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Boating, or more precisely sailing, would be near the very top of my list of favorite things to do. Wish I had made that discovery early enough in my life to have done more of it. As it is, I love having at least had the opportunity try it a few times.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. Bad time to be running a cruise line. I noticed this morning that some news outlets are calling the ship off San Francisco the virus ship. You can’t buy that kind of P. R.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. great time for a bargain on your cruise reservations
        i have a friend who went to rome just before the news broke for a month. i havnt heard if they are enjoying it. its got to be intense


  12. Riding with a friend in a car and every time he made a corner or the person ahead of him slowed down he’d say “Hang onto your socks.” Just in a very casual, low-key kinda way.
    It made me Laugh and we use it often now. Light turns green, “Hang onto your socks.” as we slowly drive away.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. slicker than snot on a door knob.
    slower than whale shit
    nervous as a a pregnant fox in a forest fire
    words to live by
    i hate it when that happens

    i like descriptive terms and use them often
    i use prittinear often as real alnguage and someone years ago heard it and asked if my family came from fargo. i said it had and they said thats where the term came from
    i saw a band named prittinear the other day. it made me smile

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I often say “I see. (Said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw)”.
    It makes me laugh.
    Daughter almost has it right when she says it to me “I see. (Says the blind man as he picks up his hammer and see-saw)”. Which makes me laugh in it’s own way.

    Liked by 2 people

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