How to survive at the Ukrainian banquet
Meeting relatives in Ukraine often leads to the food party. At home or at the restaurant while celebrating family event it’s a tradition to prepare a lot of food, really a lot. If the guests couldn’t move after the dinner because their bellies are full then the party is successful! Eating almost to death is an Ukrainian-style banquet. It’s common to continue the party on the 2nd day to eat up the food and to talk in the relaxed atmosphere.
When going to the Ukrainian party be ready to gain couple of kilo.
Which are the most common dishes in the Ukrainian party menu?
1. Red Borsch. It’s kind of a soup made of meat, beets, cabbage, potato and other vegetables. Usually homemade borsch is a very nutritious dish able to make a person feel full and satisfied at once. Borsch has vegetarian version cooked during Lenten season and green version (with no beets but green sorrel) cooked during summer time.
44% Ukrainians named borsch as their favorite dish. It’s being served in most Ukrainians restaurants and cafe, but the tastiest red borsch is made at home.
“I like to try new dishes while travelling. But there is nothing as good as home-made borsch,” – says Ukrainian. – “I cook by my own when I have time. However I even don’t give a try to prepare a borsch as it won’t be as tasty as my mother’s.”
Each housewife has her own borsch recipe that determines the taste members of the family love. The recipe includes common borsch ingredients, family secrets of the taste and color (that is also important) and a feeling the borsch is made with.
Traditionally borsch is eaten with pampushka – small loaf covered with garlic sauce and greens. At home we normally eat borsch with black Ukrainian bread.
Borsch tastes the best on the 3rd day, give it time to steep.
2. Varenyky. It’s a variation of dumplings most of nations have: like gyoza in Japan, pyrogi in Poland, ravioli in Italy. Basically it’s a piece of non-fermented dough stuffed with salty or sweet filling.
The way varenyky are made varies from one region to another. The most common are boiled 6 cm size varenyky. In Poltava region they are palm size and steamed (recommended to try).
Traditional salty fillings are potato, cabbage, mushrooms, cottage cheese, liver, meat and their mixes. Salty varenyky are served with fried onion and melted butter or cracknels. Traditional sweet fillings are cherries and other berries, poppy, sweet cheese served with sour cream.
3. Salo, the raw pork fatback. According to the well-known anecdotes and folklore it is supposed to be in the pocket of each single Ukrainian. In fact it’s a dainty with high demands for quality, freshness and temperature. If you tried and haven’t liked salo it was not the right one.
Salo should be cooled, cut thin, served with garlic or onion and black bread. It could be also served as a pasty blended with salt and garlic. Such pasty in 3 liter jar is a must-have among hikers whose relatives do farming.
– How to identify fake and genuine hryvna (Ukrainian national currency)?
You need to put the banknote face side up and run a contour with salo. If the portrait on the banknote has eyes glued on salo the banknote is genuine.
4. Chicken or pork aspic, black pudding, home made sausage, cutlets, baked fresh ham known as buzhenina and others. Ukrainians love meat and lots of dishes are prepared with meat (unless it’s Lenten season). Pork, chicken and beef are the most popular. Chicken aspic is a must-have for a New Year eve.
Only 5% of Ukrainian don’t eat meat while others can’t imagine a dinner without it.
5. Potato for Ukrainian is like pasta for Italian. Each Ukrainian consumes 10 kg potato in average per month. Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes in their skins, pan-fried potato, potato wedges, jugged potato with meat… Traditional Ukrainian dishes deruny (hash browns) and kartoplyanyky are also made of potato.
Kartoplyanyky are potato cutlets filled with meat, cabbage, cottage cheese or mushrooms. Kartoplyanyky, deruny and mashed potato are always served with sour cream.
Each soup in Ukrainian cuisine contains potato.
6. Seledka or brined herring and pickled vegetables (cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes) are always on the table during winter season. In summer they are replaced with fresh radishes, tomatoes, papers, cucumbers and greens.
7. Pyrogy, Ukrainian pies, are big loafs filled with apples, cherries, poppy seeds and nuts. It was very common to make them at home and cook in the oven or countryside stove. Nowadays most of the people buy them in the markets being satisfied with the quality and variety of fillings. Some people keep cooking pyrogy at home for family or religious holidays.
8. Uzvar, traditional non-alcohol drink, is originally made of dried apples and pears boiled in the water. It used to be a ceremonial beverage prepared for Christmas and winter religious holidays. Nowadays it’s very common in Ukrainian restaurants and as a refreshing drink at home.
Named dishes form the basis of Ukrainian style banquet, not nearly the full list. It’s common dinner menu for meeting relatives and family parties at home. You could try all named dishes in the Ukrainian style restaurants and countryside cafe.