Friday, May 10, 2013

New and Old in Kyiv

I just spent a few days in Kyiv on this trip to Ukraine, as the May holidays approached. Kyiv is increasingly an international city and although I didn't get to any markets, a couple quick snapshots convey the changing nature of Ukrainian food in this capital city.  
Somehow over the last year and a half, many the food carts in the city all adopted a sort of Ukrainian village style--so now you see these (above) faux houses on faux wooden wheels all over the center.   In the year or so before that,  tiny expresso coffee trucks popped up--they're now a really common sight.  But because it's spring, I saw these coffee trucks doing double duty--they were also selling kvas from blue and yellow barrels.  So the coffee trucks have replaced the once familiar big kvas tanks that were a harbinger of spring.

Perhaps most surprising was my encounter with a raw food restaurant, just off Maidan.   I pondered villagers eating their dandelion greens and foraged berries while I ate my green soup and fresh pressed juice.  Ever-changing Kyiv-- a reminder that our food cultures are always combinations of old and new.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

This past week, I was in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, where spring has finally sprung.  The combination of the May holidays with upcoming Orthodox Easter has meant a flurry everywhere of cleaning, painting, and most important, planting.

We didn't ever get to a market visit,  but I found it interesting that in many part of Donetsk, a highly industrial city, it still feels like a village, with residents intensively cultivating their small plots.  Here's a bit of what I saw.  At the top of the post, Lyumilla cultivates her front yard, just half a block away from a factory.

And as we walked along another part of the city, on a colder gray day, we saw many people, mostly women, out planting and preparing.

And turning a corner, a place that felt exactly like a village.  Jars of pickled mushrooms were tucked back into the back of a market stall by a bus stop and this woman brought flowers from her garden (that day, brilliant tulips) to sell in the city center. 

It was Palm Sunday and the city was filled with residents carefully carrying their bundles of pussy willows in honor of the day, like these two girls on the mashrutka.
And as we took the train back to Kyiv and twilight fell, I was reminded, once again, about how beautiful and fertile Ukraine's land is.  Lovely!