Friday, January 14, 2011

Pampushki Holiday: Delicious Doughnuts!

In last Sunday's New York Times, a travel article described L'viv, in Western Ukraine,  as a place impossible to forget. Today, we're pleased to have a blog entry from that memorable place.  Christi Anne Hofland (above, left)  is teaching English in L'viv and shared her observations on the annual Pampushki Festival.  Enjoy!

Today is January 14,  the end of the Ukrainian month-long Christmas holidays characterized by a month of feasting, beginning with St. Nicholas Day on December 19th and ending with the Old New Year celebration on January 14th.  During the holidays, one can find all the traditional Ukrainian dishes, including varenyky,  holedyets,  Christmas kutya, and of course, pampushki.  Pampushki are Ukrainian donuts traditionally served on Christmas Day.  This Christmas season in L'viv's Ploscha Rynok, we celebrated the 4th annual Pampushki Holiday.
Living in the city center of Lviv, I walk through the Plosha Rynok everyday but I had never seen so many people in the Plosha Rynok as I did during the Pumpushki Holiday! By evening it was almost impossible to cross the Rynok Square, everyone was there to sample the famous Ukrainian donut and foot traffic was hardly moving. The square was lined with vendors selling their own versions of the tasty fried treats. People lined up (or crowded up, which seems to be more the Ukrainian way) in front of the vendors known for the best pampushki. 
There were pampushkis filled with jam, chocolate, poppy seeds, or cream. Pampushkis were also covered in powdered sugar, chocolate, sweet sweetened condensed milk, or various fruit sauces. Groups of carolers paraded through in traditional “vertep” costumes. A Ukrianian folk band was playing on the stage. Kids were making Pampushki crafts at the children’s booths. Ice skaters filled the outdoor skating rink. A crowd was gathered right in the center of the Plosha Rynok. As I pushed through the crowd I encountered the largest pile of Pampushki I had ever seen! Women dressed in Ukrainian folk costumes were handing out free pampushki to anyone who made it to the front of the crowd. Of course I managed to snatch one too. Soft, fluffy, fresh, sweet and amazing! I think it probably tasted even better because of the effort it took to get my hands on one!
 Photos:  Top:  Christi Anne and friend enjoy a pampushki;  center: a pampushki vendor, 2009;  bottom:  Sarah Crow with a human pampushki, 2009.

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