Axe Soup

Axe Soup

- an estonian folk-tale

This story will be used in connection with a nordic storytelling day on spring equinox (march 20, 2002). It can be distributed freely with this copyright notice intact.

There was a soldier, who had served his time and now he went home. Near the forest he saw a little cottage and he decided to ask for a night’s lodging. The hostess opened the door but said:
- I would give to you the lodging gladly, but I have nothing to offer to eat for you. I´m so sorry!
- I don’t need any food, said the soldier. If you only have an old axe, then I could cook some good axe soup.
The woman was so surprised, she sought an old axe. The soldier washed it and put it in the pot. After some time he tasted the soup and said:
- Very rank, if we have a little piece of pork, then it wouldn´t be so rank.
When the hostess went out to bring the pork from the storeroom, the soldier threw the axe out. When the pork had boiled some minutes he tasted again:
- Still rank. The pork only doesn’t help. We need a piece of mutton. And he got a piece of mutton, too. After tasting it he said:
- Still rank. Have you a bit ground barley?
The woman had.
- Very strange, still rank. Maybe you have two or three potatoes? Potatoes are always most bland. It can take this rank less. And they added the potatoes, too.

Then the woman asked:
- How did you speak there in the war? In the Russian language, too?
- Yes, Russian language was there, too, said the soldier.
- Well, and how it was?
- Very easy. A button is "puugovits". And the mitten is "ruukovits".
- But the waggon?
- "A vot jeeto vangirka."
- But the hymn-book?
- "A jeeto laulupanka (songbank)".

[the preceding part is a play with words which is really untranslatable. You have to make up your own, in your own language. Then you can also choose how "daring" you want this part to be]

Then the soldier looked at the soup and said:
- O my God! During the time when we learnt Russian, the axe was so boiled, that there is nothing left. Not a piece of it!
Then the host came back at home and the wife told him happily how they cooked the axe soup. They ate and it tasted very good. The host said:
- It’s so good, that it could carry the tongue down.
His wife said:
- It’s so good that it could carry the teeth down.

["to carry the tongue etc down" is an exact translation of an estonian expression which of course means that it tastes delicious!]

And the man and the woman thanked the soldier for teaching them to cook the axe soup. And they believed that it was a real axe soup and so they believe until today.

Piret Päär 2002

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