More Russian language in Portland

with 5 Comments

If you haven’t already heard, Portland is full of the Russian language.

There are citizenship classes taught in Russian, a Russian social services program, and at least a dozen Slavic churches.

There are little Eastern European stores with names like “Good Neighbor Store” and “Russian Elegant Food”, Cyrillic-lettered business cards taped up to bulletin boards at the door and free copies of деловой журнал outside.

There’s a local radio channel—the only all-Russian pop station broadcasting in the US.

Last week, a local paper even published this special issue…

Imagine walking down the street and seeing that in the newspaper rack!! For a minute, I forgot where I was. 😉 At my husband’s job, his coworkers brought in the newspaper to make sure he’d seen it. My mom also brought it up (a few days after calling and asking if Ray Moore was actually speaking fluent Russian in that interview, haha.)

This is the second time in the past six months that a local newspaper has written about Oregon’s Russian-speaking communities. In summer, the Oregonian published Dobro pozhalovat’ to the vast Russian community hidden in Portland. Now, Willamette Week has followed up with their own Russia Issue. You can read all eight articles + introduction on their website. I’ll show you bits and pieces of the articles below.

Some of the articles discuss Old Believers, a ballet academy in the suburbs, and—you guessed it—Trump/Russia ties.

There’s yet another article on downtown’s Kachka, the expensive stolovaya experience that has attracted crowds for the past three years. Fortunately, the article talks more about Kachka’s new cookbook (“the first major Russian cookbook published in America in 27 years”) than the actual already-reviewed-a-million-times restaurant.

My favorite article was about русское радио KXRU-FM 105.5, a radio station I didn’t know existed. It’s actually pretty cool! The music isn’t what I’d normally pick, but it’s fun to hear local and national news in Russian. A newsflash today pointed out that it’s Saakashvili’s birthday, which you’re guaranteed never to hear in the English language news… if only because no one can actually pronounce “Saakashvili”. You can stream русское радио for yourself here.

The next article covered how a trip to one of those Eastern European stores I mentioned before can be “an emotional journey.” (Speaking of which, when my mother-in-law visited us last month, we went to such a store so she could buy a dozen bags of pryaniki. When we got in the store and she saw all the halva, pryaniki, canned peas, and cheap persimmons, her eyes lit up! Since there’s no similar store where she lives, other people in the community asked her to come back with an entire suitcase full of pryaniki, and she obliged.) My favorite quote from this article: “When I talk about mayonnaise, I always kind of describe mayonnaise as, it’s as iconic as the Soviet Union gets—and because mayonnaise’s nature is not that stable to begin, that’s why the Soviet Union broke apart, because it was held together by mayonnaise.

The final article was a list of Russian-y events in the area, like cooking classes, parties, plays, and the annual summertime Portland Slavic Festival.

By the way, if none of this sounds like the millennial, craft brewery, gluten-free Portland you’d heard about, don’t worry- that stuff is around too. Like this:

If you read any articles from the Willamette Week’s “Russia Issue”, I’m curious to hear what you think of them! Leave me a comment.


PS: For more about this topic, take a look at Russian Language in Portland and Speaking Russian in Portland.


PPS: After my husband and I finished reading the paper, someone else took an interest in it-

5 Responses

  1. Valentina
    | Reply

    Как приятно было читать, когда человек описывает свою радость по поводу того, что он нашёл, места, где говорят по-русски, есть русские магазины и русская пресса. Приезжайте к нам на Кипр, в Лимасол! Здесь Вы сможете почувствовать себя, как в России. 🙂 Во многих обычных магазинах (не русских) есть персонал, говорящий по-русски. У нас 2 русские радиостанции, несколько газет и журналов на русском, несколько русских школ, детских садов и множество развивающих центров для детей дошкольного и младшего школьного возраста, много русских магазинов, везде можно увидеть надписи ( и рекламу на русском, а также очень много мероприятий на русском. Но вот киприоты этим совсем не интересуются. 🙁 Они хотят изучать русский язык, но, в основном, никто не хочет прилагать никаких усилий. Поэтому мне особенно было очень приятно читать, что Вы, Катерина, не только изучаете русский язык, но радуетесь любой возможности использовать свои знания и практиковаться говорить, читать и слушать по-русски. Возможно, Вам будет интересна эта страница на Фейсбуке

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Валентина, спасибо, обязательно хочу приехать. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Как хорошо что, у вас даже есть украшения на русском на Кипре. Я понимаю что, Кипр очень популарное место у русскоязычных туристов, но как случилось так что много русских там живут? Это случилось давно?

      Кстати, поздравляю вас с Новым годом!

      ПС: Да, страница интересная. Я “лайкнула”!

  2. J.T.
    | Reply

    Cool magazine. But *seriously* – Soviet font and cyrillic abuse? Can’t wait to read this “isstseh”! -_-

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Haha, when I saw that, it actually reminded me of some of the covers you’d rolled your eyes at on RR… but on the other hand, at least it wasn’t the “Яussia” Issue. (I think it’s quite hard for most people to resist the я.) 😉

      • J.T.

        True, very true.

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