Sunday, September 9, 2012

Train Food Memories

This past week I did a rare thing for most Americans--took a train ride--and although the scenery was different (traversing along the Pacific Coast from Los Angeles to San Diego) it brought back many memories of so many train trips in Ukraine, so I thought I'd share a bit about Ukrainian train food.

Last summer, Sarah and I embarked on trains that literally took us around Ukraine--from Kyiv to Donetsk to Simferopol to Odessa to L'viv and back to Kyiv.   It was holiday season for many and I was struck by two ways in which local residents living near train stations made additional income by supplying food to those hungry travelers.
At several stops,  people waited for trains to pull in and sold food up into the doors and windows of the train:  smoked fish,  corn on the cob, and more.   Anxious travelers stocked up for the overnight trip. (sorry for the blurriness of some of these photos,  taken on the fly through a train window)
Still other entreprenuers appeared with buckets and baskets of berries, peaches, plums, cherries and more, to be purchased as fresh as can be, gently carried home, back to the city, for canning and preserving.  At one station in the Carpathians, travelers passed through a friendly gauntlet of women with all sorts of fresh (and as we can attest, delicious) things for sale.  It reinforced for me the ongoing importance for Ukrainians of a direct connection between consumers and producers.  You want to be able to look a vender in the eye and talk about the food.
We were no exception. Before we started off on any Pickle Project ride,  we stocked up with food to sustain us along the way:  pickles,  salty string cheese, dried fruit and leposhka, a round bread like naan, baked on an oven.  If it was summer, berries, cherries and plums;  in winter,  dried fruit.

And of course, there's one drink that epitomizes Ukrainian train travel to me.  It's that hot morning tea,  delivered briskly by the train attendant to your compartment in the morning as you approach your destination in its old fashioned yet lovely glass with a metal holder that clinks a bit as the train lumbers and rattles along and you watch the countryside pass by.  If you've been a Ukrainian train traveler, what food memories can you share?

1 comment:

  1. Ukraine has a great cuisine! Borscht, varenyky, cakes, salads, sausage… It is very cheap and so tasty! When you go to Ukraine you definitely should pay more attention to local dishes: Ukrainians also like to drink gorilka, but it can not be called traditional Ukrainian drink :)