10 Signs You Were Born and Raised in Siberia
1. A home is not a home unless you have at least two extra pairs of tapochki in case you have visitors.
The severe weather conditions dictate the terms even indoors. Most of the houses in Siberia have a wooden floor and rugs to try to keep the warmth longer, so when you come to visit us, there’s nothing better than the feeling of changing from shoes to comfy slippers and start feeling at home. For those of us who live abroad, the idea of being with shoes on at home is nearly impossible to accept.
2. You eat Victoria instead of strawberries and use vihotka to sponge yourself in a shower.
Us Siberians use some slang that other Russians cannot understand, and it makes it easy to recognize a fellow countryman. You are a true Siberian when you know that mom’s handmade varezhki keep your hands warm in winter better than any store-bought mittens. You also keep important documents in a transparent file called multifora because computers are good, but printed version is better.
3. You have zero patience for waiting and consider it rude.
Punctuality is in our blood. Whether it’s a job interview or a family reunion you always arrive 10-15 minutes before an appointed hour. The only exception is a romantic date when a girl is allowed to be tardy. Though, it happens very rarely, because who needs a frostbitten Prince Charming, for God’s sake?
4. You never underestimate the healing power of grandma’s medicine.
Living in the cold for most of a year affects the immune system. Your first-aid kit contains mostly grandma’s medicine. Homemade honey-based syrups, coltsfoot potions, chamomile or sage tea and bee glue creams are always kept handy, and their recipes are passed on from generation to generation.
5. You eat caviar by spoon and keep it by liters.
Siberia has the greatest lake Baikal and the river Yenisei that have one of the richest faunas in the world, which makes fishing the most popular hobby among the local men. As a result, during the season every fridge has a container with this delicacy that’s normally served in a bowl. No need to make caviar such a fancy affair — we just take a spoon and dig in!
6. There is no such thing as lunch without soup.
‘If you don’t eat soup, you will spoil your digestion,’ your mom will always remind you. Winter soups must be hot, like Solyanka, but summer is all about Okroshka. Instead of broth, you use kvass — a beverage made of rye bread. And, of course, sour cream — Smetana — makes any soup taste better.
7. You believe that good tea never comes in tea bags.
Black tea means the world to Siberians. You drink hot tea at any time of the day and start polishing your skills in tea-brewing from childhood. You’ve done numerous experiments with tea taste by adding other leaves and berries to it. You consider serving tea bags bad taste, and you have own secret ingredient for a perfect cup of tea.
This story was produced through the travel journalism programs at MatadorU.
8. You know that a table should never be empty.
Even if you gather for a drink with friends, the table must be full of snacks in a wide variety. Despite our cold look, us Siberians are very friendly people. You are always ready to help and open the door to a person in need. So, when it comes to guests, any meal turns into a feast.
9. Ice bucket challenge was just another part of your childhood.
Sibiryaki are famous for our health. There is an expression in Russian used to describe a hale and hearty person — ‘a man of Siberian health.’ Your immune system got toughened not just by a lifetime of battling with harsh climate but also by fortifying the body against colds from very early age. This process most likely included the stuff like ice water swimming, cold showers and even rubbing your body with snow. Sounds crazy, but it’s worked for generations.
10. Nostomania is your incurable disease.
Siberians have sincere devotion to our homeland. Acute homesickness is our daily condition anytime we leave. So, before you ask us about the motherland, better be sure that time is not an issue.