быстро! быстро!”

The other day while listening to my Russian language CD’s we learned the word ‘bystro’ (‘быстро’ pronounced ‘bwistra’) meaning ‘quickly’.  There was a funny story associated with the word.  There is an old folk etymology claiming the word ‘bistro’, as in a casual sit down restaurant, came as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars.  The story goes that during the Russian Occupation of Paris of 1915 the Cossack soldiers would eat in the cafes and call out быстро! быстро!” (“quickly! quickly”!). This caught on with the French speakers who mispronounced it, and so the ‘bistro’ was born.

Linguists have classified this as a nice story, and while they are still unsure of the true origin of the word, many believe that it has something to do with the word ‘bistraud’. ‘Bistraud’ in the Poitou dialect of France means “the assistant of the wine seller”.  The Poitou people of France are the ones who eventually found themselves in Louisiana and are who we now know of as the Cajuns.

And quite opposite of the original story, the Russians have now adopted the word ‘bistro’, and use it in the same way as we do, to mean a simple restaurant.

My question for you is, what words have invading armies spread? Any food related words?


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