A vitamin-rich lesson


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Hello and welcome to our Czech-teaching series, focusing on farm plants and crops. Today we look at vegetables. The Czech word zelenina is derived from the word zelený, green. All the plants we are going to speak about today are not vegetables, strictly speaking, but they fit best in today's instalment.

For example potatoes - brambory. There are many regional words for them but we'll stay with the official term. Is someone's nose resembles a potato - nos jako brambora, you can imagine what it looks like. If someone is handling a problem like a hot potato horký brambor, it means it is a problem so unpleasant they try to get rid of it quickly. If someone falls down like a sack of potatoes - svalit se jako pytel brambor, they collapse with a bump.

For some reason, beetroot is a symbol of health in Czech. Zdravý jako øípa - healthy as a beetroot is a common expression referring to someone's good health. You can also be healthy as a turnip - zdravý jako tuøín - or a horseradish zdravý jako køen. Tasty beer is usually compared to horseradish, too - pivo jako køen.

Staying with root vegetables, the phrase strouhat mrkvièku is mostly used by children and expresses malicious joy. It is used when somebody fails in something and others are sneering at the poor child making gestures as if they were indeed grinding a carrot. If strive for something and you don't succeed, you can say ostrouhal jsem mrkvièku - "I ground a carrot", meaning I went home empty-handed, I did not achieve what I came for.

The Czech version of the English expression "carrot and stick" is "sugar and whip" in Czech, cukr a biè.

Parsley petr¾el is another favourite vegetable in this region. If someone does not understand something, we can say rozumí tomu jako koza petr¾eli - he understands it as a goat understands parsley.

Another favourite vegetable is cabbage. It is vital for the Czech national dish vepøo knedlo, zelo - pork, dumplings and cabbage. To "get into someone's cabbage patch" - lézt do zelí means to interfere in somebody's area of interest, such as courting his wife.

And that's it for today's lesson which comes almost at the end of the "cucumber season" - okurková sezona - the Czech term for the "silly season" when nothing is happening except the cucumber harvest.

I hope you'll join us next time for more idioms about farm crops. Till then, na shledanou.


See also Living Czech.