In post-Soviet Russia, Siberian banana just looks at you

I'm presently at the SF Assembly in St Petersburg, Russia, where I'm one of the writer guests. Last night I was helping prepare for the sashlik barbecue, slicing up cucumbers, when a con-goer looked over my shoulder and said, "Ah, banana Siberski!" -- that is, "Siberian bananas!"

Just look at it.


      1. Not sure who told you that, but they were severely confused. “Vodka” literally translates as “little water.” They were probably thinking of the French equivalent, eau de vie.

      2.  That seems to be a common theme in that part of the world.  In Scandinavian countries, akvavit is a popular drink and the name comes from “water of life” in Latin.

          1. When in glasgow, I learned that “Uisge Betha” is “water of life” in Gaelic.  And if you say that fast enough, or drunk enough, you know what the etymology of Whiskey is.

        1. Ah yes, the potato alcohol. Whoever dreamed up that one was really looking for something to get wasted on.

          The story goes that the Danish king put a ban on all other private alcohol production to try getting farmers to grow this new mysterious vegetable.

  1. I was at a banquet in St. Petersberg before the fall of the Berlin wall.

    On the table there was plenty of vodka, Georgian champagne, caviar, etc.

    At at each end of the table, high in a silver bowl raised 3 feet above the table was a bunch of a bananas. They were so rare and precious I think we were just supposed to admire them. At that time bananas were completely unavailable to ordinary Russians.

    1. Not really. Yes, there were not a single banana in most Russian sities and towns but in Moscow and Leningrad you could buy them easily. Alas, I lived in a bananaless sity! 

      1. I doubt even in Moscow and Leningrad that bananas were for sale in the state run stores for the general public – though there may have been  such rumors in the hinterlands.

        At the banquet, we guessed that the bananas were being placed off limits so they could be diverted to the black market.

  2.  Just don’t mention gay rights Cory, or let them know you might have homosexual characters in your books. That’s a big fine in Russian.

    1. That whooshing sound you heard was the joke screaming over your head like a low-flying MIG. Thanks for playing.

  3. Reminds me of the  famous cover of November 1989 by the West German satirical magazine “Titanic”. The title reads: “Zonen-Gaby (17) in luck (FRG): My first banana”. “Zone” refers to East Germany’s informal name “sowjetische Besatzungszone” (soviet-occupied area). After the fall of the border, the first thing many Easterners bought in West German supermarkets were, of course, bananas.

    1. I grew up in East Germany and I can’t stand Bananas (never could, even the smell makes me want to poke my eyes out). 
      Imagine the amount of “spoiled brat” comments my parents and I had to endure from well-meaning banana offerers!

  4. ” Banana Siberski”. I forgot to write what i first thought about that:  Typical Russian gallows humour that tells us something about the general unobtainability of bananas in the “Workers Paradise”…

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