I-ATE FOOD TERM OF THE WEEK: Grechka or Buckwheat Groats

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Have you ever tried these hearty seeds?

Due to its nutritional value and useful properties, Grechka (in the Russian language) or buckwheat groats is a symbol of longevity and healthy food.

Despite the fact that buckwheat is a broad-leaved plant, it continues to be considered a cereal, due to the huge similarity in the use of these products.

This crop has become popular among many cultures, in particular, the East Slavs who cook Grechnevaya kasha on a daily basis as a garnish to meat or vegetables. What an incredible taste, cooked with mushrooms and fresh herbs! This kasha can make an alternative to a mushroom risotto!

It is interesting, that in Slavic Europe, the word kasha means porridge which refers to any kind of cooked grains, but in other parts, it is understood as just roasted or boiled buckwheat groats.

The history and gastronomic diversity of Grechka

Grechka is truly centuries-old seeds that were spread from the territory of the highlands of Nepal and India throughout the whole Asia to Middle East. Presumably, in the 7th century, it appeared in Rus’ (the modern part of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine) and only in the 15th century in Europe. Being unpretentious in cultivation, this crop is known to this day not only in the form of grains but also as an ingredient to make honey, sweets, pastry, and cutlets.

In Asian cuisine, ground grains are used in the recipes of very diverse dishes. In China, for example, it is used for tea and chocolate, while in Korea traditional steamed buns are baked with a rich buckwheat flavor. Japanese people use buckwheat flour for the preparation of everyone’s favorite soba noodles.

The etymology of the word

According to one of the hypotheses, Grechka got its name from Greek merchants and monks at monasteries who were the first ones to cultivate the crops in the former Rus’. Linguistic similarities are seen in the morphemes, if we refer to the words grek, grechanka, grecheskiy (in the equivalent in English – a Greek, a Greek woman, Greek -adj.)

However, in Greece, grechka was eaten only occasionally and was called Turkish grits, whereas in the West it was considered an Arab grain. Hence, depending on the place it was distributed from, this crop received various names.

As we can see, grechka is a groat with a mysterious origin, that finds its place in many cuisines across the cultures and is one of the traditional dishes in East Slavic countries.


References:

Hullo. 2015. What Is Buckwheat? An Incredible Plant with a Long History. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hullopillow.com/what-is-buckwheat/. [Accessed 04/05/2022].

Revinskaya, E., 2013. Russian Kitchen: Grechka. [ONLINE] Russia Beyond. Available at: https://www.rbth.com/arts/2013/09/10/russian_kitchen_grechka_29243.  [Accessed 04/05/2022].

Schci.ru. Гречневая каша русское блюдо: история возникновения Щи.ру. [ONLINE] Available at: https://schci.ru/grechnevaya_kasha.html. [Accessed 4 May 2022].

Weisskopf A., Fuller D.Q., 2014. Buckwheat: Origins and Development. In: Smith C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY. [ONLINE] Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_2310. [Accessed 04/05/2022].

Кузнецова, Е., 2020. Супергречка: эта крупа способна на многое, даже замедлить старение. [ONLINE] Championat.com. Available at: https://www.championat.com/lifestyle/article-4092211-pochemu-grechka-polezna-dlja-zdorovja-i-dolgoletija-unikalnye-svojstva-caricy-krup.html [Accessed 04/05/2022].

Ruspirit.ru.2022. Grechka | Buckwheat. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ruspirit.ru/en/content/grechka. [Accessed 04/05/2022].

Written by Alina Chaiko

She has completed a Bachelor’s degree in “Modern languages” with a specialization in translation at Minsk State Linguistic University in Belarus. Has obtained professional experience in teaching, translation, media, and administration. Passionate about cultural diversity, intercultural communication, and volunteering initiatives she did a year of European Solidarity Corps Service in an NGO in Luxembourg. Сurrently is doing a Master’s programme in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. In May of 2022, she is a Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.