Some products have long disappeared from our tables. But at the same time, the mention of them is firmly included in the vocabulary. “Easier than a steamed turnip!” – we hear this phrase quite often.
Do you know the true meaning of this expression and how it appeared in our speech?
Perhaps our article will not only enrich your speech, but also motivate you to try an old dish, since it is so easy to prepare.
The meaning of phraseological units
“Easier than a steamed turnip” means something very simple: a job or a task. The winged expression is used in colloquial speech, has a familiar, condescending, and sometimes derisive overtones.
“Easier than a steamed turnip” can be said about cooking a dish, solving a mathematical problem, or making clothes. Sometimes they say this about a person’s character: “His soul is as simple as a steamed turnip.”
The origin of the phraseological unit
The winged expression occurred as a result of contamination or combining of two other phraseological units: “as easy as shelling pears” and “cheaper than a steamed turnip.”
Several centuries ago, turnip was the staple food of both peasants and people from wealthier classes. It was grown in the fields along with wheat. Unpretentious agriculture yielded a good harvest and did not need careful care.
Due to the simplicity of cultivation, the cost of the root crop was low. It was measured with whole carts. “Cheaper than a steamed turnip” product could not be found. Peter the Great even ordered to load the cannons with turnips for entertainment events. For the peasants, it was valuable, and a poor harvest threatened with real hunger.
The steamed turnip recipe was also simple. When the oven cooled down after baking bread or preparing porridge, a closed earthen pot was placed in it, in which there was a peeled and sliced turnip. Nothing else was added to it: no sugar, no salt, no oil.
Very rarely, if a non-succulent root crop came across, a little water was poured into the bottom of the pot. In this state, the turnip languished for a very long time, sometimes all night. There was no need to stir the dish, nor to make sure that it did not burn. Indeed, it is difficult to find a recipe “simpler than a steamed turnip.”
This popular expression has no less colorful analogs:
- a couple of trifles;
- a trifling matter;
- as easy as pie;
- spit (sneeze);
- elementary Watson;
- do not go to the fortune-teller (grandmother);
- as clear as God’s day.
Among all the expressions listed above, “simpler than a steamed turnip” is the most ancient and authentic version.