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    Recently, I’ve found a nice ~30 minutes long documentary on YouTube about vodka origin, and Polish-Russian conflict about it. Both nations claimed that vodka was invented by them in the past.


    It is divided on two parts. In the first part this guy visits Russia (also U.S. and England, but only to get information), and in the second part he visits Poland – to understand the reasons of this “war”, and receive an answer.

    What do you think about it?

    Post Scriptum: His conclusion about vodka is awesome. :D



    Vodka is what half of all Bulgarians drink. Because men prefer Rakia.

    Boris V.
    Boris V.

    I have to agree with @aaaaa, Vodka is like a baby drink for Rakia



    I know it is stronger, though it seems that vodka is older stuff.



    There’s nothing inherently stronger about Rakia, both are distilled in the same manner. Because of its lack of specific flavor, though, Vodka is frequently sold with added fruity (in more sense than one) flavors and used in cocktails, hence the perception that it’s a less-than-manly drink ;)
    The manly thing about Rakia is that the best kind is the one you brewed yourself.



    Vodka with fruity flavor is not vodka, in my opinion. Maybe it is fine, maybe it makes someone drunk, but… sometimes I simply prefer traditional vodka. ;)

    Ok, I simply prefer alcohol :p



    Everything good has to be taken in moderation though :D



    Vodka can be a very good drink, but I loza unsurpassed. By the way no beverage types of vodka, loza, cognac, whiskey, etc., did not exist before the discovery of the technological process of distillation, and this was the 17th century.



    Due to the documentary, and according to the manuscripts presented there, vodka was known in Poland in 16th century.



    I read a bit on history of Vodka.

    Etymology of Vod-ka is small water. The first mentioning of Vodka in Poland was in 1403. The first mentioning of Vodka in Novgorod, Russia was in 1533. But in those times Vodka was not an alcoholic drink in Poland or Russia. In Russia Vodka was herbal tincture, which was a medical remedy.

    A renown Russian writer on history of cooking William Pokhlebkin wrote an academic monograph “History of Vodka, which was translated into several languages. He suggested that the birthplace of alcoholic drink Vodka was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (territories of modern day Belarus) , from which Vodka was spread to neighbouring Poland and Novgorod, Russia. The Grand Duchy was the region in which honey, wax and candles were produced and exported in large quantities. The technology and necessary ingredient honey used in Vodka making initially were readily available. The drink was spread to Poland, where it was known as ‘gorzalka’ initially. It is still named as such in Ukraine and Belarus. Later, the name ‘Vodka’ was applied to the drink in Russia and Poland. I am not sure who was first to make Vodka from grains and bread, as I haven’t read the book entirely. Probably Russian monasteries began making it from bread. But there are no records on Vodka made from bread as drinking was prohibited by religion in past. It was certainly the Russians arriving with the formula of (38% initially) 40% of alcohol in Vodka.

    Territories of Belarus were in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. So, Poles took Vodka from Belarusians thinking it’s their drink. The same was with the Russians. But it was not just Vodka, Poles took many dishes from eastern territories such as Zrazy, Bigos, Gołąbki, Zemiakové placky, Zupa szczawiowa, Polędwica, Śledź pod pierzynką,Chłodnik litewski,Kiełbasa litewska suszona, Żurek, Naleśniki, Škalondza, Barszcz, Pierogi, kapuśniak z grzybami, Rosolnik, Seljanka, Czarna polewka and many others.

    To make quality Vodka from water and alcohol is not an easy taks. There are various types of distilations and waters used in Vodka making.




    In the past a particular type of liquor was made in Belarus from rye grains and matured in old oak barrels often that were already used in wine-making. The drink was called ‘Starka’. The wikipedia article states the country of origins are Poland & Lithuania. I am pretty sure the drink was also made in Belarus. Used oak barrels were imported from Hungary. So, it was Szlachta’s drink. I am reading the drink is commercially made in Poland in small quantities nowadays.

    Would it be too much to ask to search for the origins of the drink and etymology of the term ‘Starka’ in Polish literature? The word Starka may have formed from the word Stary (old) and and suffix -ka is added to mean diminutive of Stary. For example , Voda > Vod-ka (little water). Similarly , Stary > Star-ka.



    @Sviatogor, it could be made in Belarus but you need to have in mind, that there was no Belarus in the past. When starka was made for the first time it was a Lithuanian territory. Analogically, you will say that a shield called “scutum” was of Roman origin, not Italian. So starka could have been made on a territory of Belarus, but not in Belarus, as there was no such country.

    I’ve found two options about word “starka”. One comes from a German word “stark” which means “strong”. German language in the past influenced Polish and Lithuanian language, so this can be somehow logical. The other option I have found is about old-Lithuanian “starkus” which means “a stork”.

    In Silesian dialect of Polish language “starka” means “grandma”. But I doubt if that can be in any way relevant.

    I have tasted starka only once – not Polish but Lithuanian (brother brought me). I liked it :D




    I am aware of the fact Belarus was Lithuania in the past. General readers don’t realise that when we speak of Lithuania 200-300 years . People assume that Lithuania is actually present day Lithuania in historical context. I remember reading results of a survey in Poland asking people about Poland’s neighbouring countries. If memory serves me correctly as many as 35% pointed to Belarus than Lithuania when they were asked to show Lithuania on the map.

    For convenience purposes people say Belarus to mean Lithuania on present-day territories of Belarus 200-300 years ago. Belarusians cherish their Lithuanian heritage, it’s just tiresome to explain the differences to an average Joe.

    I don’t think Starka is of Belarusian origin ie originated on present day territories of Belarus. The drink is more likely to be of Polish origin. But I am not sure about that. Poles are making it commercially to this date, while Lithuanians have Starka flavoured vodka. Belarusians are not making it at all. Our culture and culinary traditions have been russified and sovietised the most. Many dishes and drinks described in books published in the 19th century and ethnographers’ scripts are not cooked anymore in Belarus but still present in Lithuania. Soviet government promoted certain types of dishes through restaurants, shops and public catering inventing new dishes. The same goes for Belarusian folk songs & dances, and traditional musical instruments. Some traditional musical intruments were excluded such as our beloved bag-pipe, while other instruments played elsewhere in Moldova and south-western Ukraine were put as Belarusian traditional instrument. Many things were done by the approval of the government affecting culture of people during urbanisation.

    Anyway, I think Starka means old, as the drink was aged in oak barrels. Not sure why it would be called after stork bird.



    @Sviatogor, well. I would never made such mistake about geography, as I always liked this subject. But it is possible that people do not know where Lithuania is. I don’t know much about starka, but if it is of Lithuanian or Polish origin, it doesn’t matter to me. :)

    Probably it means “old”. Or maybe it is somehow connected with a place or name of “creator”. I think no one is 100% sure about this.



    @FORMICA, the process of distillation was known long, long before the 17th century. The earliest mention of it is in ancient Greek times. Not only that, but distillation for the production of alcohol was certainly used at least several centuries before the 17th – f.e. in medieval Bulgaria (and the situation is likely the same in Byzantium), we have archaeological finds of exquisite distillers from the 9th-10th century or so, though they’re relatively few in number (and maybe weren’t used for alcohol). However, from around the 12th-13th century there’s a boom of a greater quantity of lower-quality distillers, suggesting the distillation of alcohols had spread from the elite (as it was previously) to the lower classes. Around that same time alcohol distillates appear in Western Europe as well, I think.
    And in the 14th century we already have a mention of rakia (a ceramics fragment with the graffiti inscription “I drank rakinya on the holiday”). I’ve even read an idea that the etymology of rakia might actually not be Arabic, but Slavic instead, from the supposedly old Slavic word of “rakka”, meaning “empty-head”. Though I haven’t heard of such a Slavic word (rakka) before, so I rather doubt that.

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