Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Historic Images 2

More historic images collected at the antique market here in Kyiv,  including the lovely oil sketch above, of a field showing the rich dark soil  that helped make Ukraine the breadbasket of Europe.  

This postcard represents the most common (and least interesting to me) images of rural life, farming and/or food here in Ukraine.   These were evidently produced for consumption here and elsewhere, as some bear the title, "Petit Russia,"  a name sometimes used by others for Ukraine.

Have foodways photos to share from Ukraine--historic or contemporary, we want to hear from you!
(and once again, apologies for the not-great quality of images--snapped photos of the originals, not scans).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Easter: Paska and Pysanky

I know, Easter is already long past.   And Easter is one of the most significant holidays in Ukraine, with a host of food traditions surrounding it.  I keep thinking that I will get to a long post about various Easter foods and traditions, and don't quite get to it.  So instead, I decided to just share some pictures taken around Kyiv this year and point readers to some additional information.  And of course, share your stories and photos with us!

First--paska.  The photos at the top of the post show several different kinds of paska, the Ukrainian Easter bread.  The one on the top was made for me by my friend Valentyna--it's just a small one.  The ones on the bottom were on display at an event at the Ivan Honchar Museum here in Kyiv--they are from different regions, each of whom had their own traditional style.   Many people bake their own paska, but the stores and markets are filled with ones to purchase.  Below, the dairy ladies at Bessarabka Market also have paska for sale before Easter.  Want to try making your own or learning more?  click here for a recipe and more information.

Next--pysanky--the painted eggs that are probably the best known Ukrainian Easter tradition.   Just before Easter, vendors spring up selling painted eggs--some are raw eggs, some have had the yolk and white blown out, and others are wooden ones. Pysanky date back to pre-Christian times and are usually done with a wax-resist method.  For a slide show and more information from the Ukrainian Museum in New York, click here.   The two pictures below show pysanky purchased in two different cities.  The first picture are ones are from Kyiv, the second from L'viv.

And finally,  the Easter basket.   In the US, we think of an Easter basket as a children's activity, filled with candy and brought by the Easter bunny.  Here in Ukraine, a basket is filled with  food and taken to the church to be blessed.   Below, a list of traditional foods that should be included (thanks www.brama.com for the information) but I have seen many other foods in the basket--snack foods, soda, vodka--as the tradition grows continues but also becomes contemporary.

PASKAPlace a candle into the center of the paska and light it when the priest begins the blessing ceremony.
PYSANKYEaster eggs, new ones every year
KRASHANKYdyed eggs - variety of colors, but there must be a red one
EGGShard boiled and peeled
SALTa small amount
BUTTERshould be nicely shaped and decorated with whole cloves and placed on a small dish or on top of the cheese
CHEESEsweet cheese: mix farmer cheese with confectionery sugar, raisins, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Place on a dish and on top you can place the butter.
HORSERADISHa piece of the root or prepared horseradish with beets
KOVBASAsausage - a small ring

And finally, some pictures of Kyivans with their baskets on Easter weekend and a priest blessing baskets at St. Volodomyr.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pickles on a Pedestal

You might be wondering why we named this blog The Pickle Project when we're writing about all kinds of food and foodways, not just pickles.  But we're happy to confirm our thoughts that pickles represent something important here in Ukraine, thanks to American Peace Corps volunteer Pat Combs who sent us this photo of yes, a statue of a barrel of pickles.

But pickles aren't the only food that Ukrainians have created monuments to.  In Poltava, there's a monument to galushka (known elsewhere in Ukraine as varenyky and as pierogi elsewhere in eastern Europe and in many Americans communities with immigrants from the region).  Varenyky, along with Ukrainian folk icon Cossack Mamai makes an appearance on a monument in front of a hotel in Cherkasi.

Giant Ukrainian food has come to the new world as well.  In Glendon, Alberta, now the home of many Ukrainian immigrants and their descendants, there's a statue of a giant vareynky (or pierogi) --speared by a fork and ready to eat!

Are there more food statues out there in Ukraine?  If you've seen one, send us your pictures.

Pickle barrel monument, courtesy Pat Combs
Galushka monument, Poltava, via wikipedia.commons.org
Monument, Cherkasi, via travelgather.com

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter at the Bulgakovs

Every year, the Bulgakov Museum here in Kyiv (former home of writer Mikhail Bulgakov, author of The Master and Margarita and The White Guard)  recreates the Bulgakov family's Easter table from one hundred or so years ago,  based on a historic photo.  More blog posts on Ukrainian Easter to come, but a quick sharing of a lovely re-creation, with the paska (traditional bread at the back of the table)  and pysanky (eggs) still widely present today, and the historic photo on which it's based.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Willow Sunday: What will you Choose?

It's not quite a food product, but it is a use of a forest (more or less) product, so I wanted to take note of Willow Sunday--what I grew up calling Palm Sunday.  Palms aren't exactly common in Ukraine, so somewhere along the way, they were replaced by willow branches--and more specifically, by bunches of pussy willows, sold outside of churches.  

Each vendor has wrapped up bunches of pussy willows in their own way.  Some are fully open, others are combined with bits of greenery, and still others are just twigs.  Some are tied with ribbon, others just gathered together.  Purchasers spend a great deal of time in conversation contemplating the purchase of this simple, yet beautiful bouquet.  Easter was earlier this year than last, so I wondered if the willows would be ready--somehow they were, and when I was in the mountains last week, after Willow Sunday, I noticed that willows were already leafing out.  

What do you do with your bunch of willows?  Take them to church to have them blessed, and then, stroll around the city with your family.   And in this post, just a few of the vendors and Kyiv's citizens celebrating the day between St. Michael's and St. Sophia.