discovering Ukrainian gastronomy

22:00, June 2, 2022

La cuisine is sometimes political. And diplomacy, gastronomy. Even when the fight left no room to express at this time, the Ukrainian cuisine can survive during the missiles. These days, his recipes are bursting in through a beautiful book, which was published and translated before the beginning of the conflict: the collective work Ukraine, cuisine and history (La Martinière, 45 euros) unveils 80 recipes for chefs enlightened by historical tales to bring to life the identity and culture of a people today hit hard.

It is a great tradition of hospitalization in Ukraine

“It is a great tradition of hospitalization in Ukraine, says the book’s translator, Iryna Dmytrychyn, a lecturer at the National Institute of Oriental Languages ​​and Civilizations (Inalco). With us, you are not allowed to leave without at least having a tea with a few cakes. Il faut manger beaucoup, quantity is very important. It’s like a game: you can say no once, but the third time you always accept! » The many loaves are one of the symbols of this hospitality: black or white bread, Jewish matza or hallah, Armenian lavache, Krakow pretzels or streusels …

Salaison and fermentation

Although it has been influenced by the religious rituals of various obediences, Ukrainian cuisine is also marked by the work of wheat (whose country is the attic in Europe), while being the realm of seasonality and vegetables. It is also a cuisine of salting fish or meat, rich in brine and fermentation techniques: cabbage, aubergines, large pickles malossol, pickles and jars of all kinds have always had a special place in Ukrainian cellars. “When I was a child, in the fall, the kitchen was filled with glass jars that gradually migrated to the basement.” Iryna Dmytrychyn is remembered. Juices, jams, fruit in syrup, apples or watermelons that were eaten all winter. »

The Ukrainian emblematic dish is the borscht, which was born in Ukraine, but which can also be found in other versions in Poland or Russia. Ukrainian borscht is a stew of meat, with a very fine broth, crispy green cabbage and a stuffing with carrot, onion and especially beet, which is original, smells of the dish and gives it its beautiful red hue.

There are even fast foods with borscht or varenyky at unbeatable prices

On the Ukrainian tables there are also stuffed cabbage (golubtsy), Kyiv chicken with mushrooms and white wine, lots of honey and varenyky, these salty or sweet ravioli … “It’s even fast food with borscht or varenyky at unbeatable prices, continues the teacher. Emissions like MasterChef and the arrival of foreign cuisine, especially Italian and Japanese, have also contributed to the evolution of the new plates. »

A mixture of Slavic cultures, Ukrainian cuisine has always traveled according to history. His recipes are also those of the Ashkenazi, who made pogroms in the 19th century, especially to the United States where they inspired the cuisine of New York delicatessen, which became famous for pastrami… Today, history repeats itself and the Ukrainian refugees in Europe still cook. Like Alina, Yulia and Ivan, exiled in France, who met Daniel Rose, from the restaurant La Bourse et la Vie (Paris 2nd). He offered to concoct with them the specialties of their country and put them on the restaurant menu. “Their story touches me: my grandmother arrived in the United States from Ukraine in 1897”explains the Chicago-born chef.

Assisting refugees and war victims

In its establishment, you can taste, until May 31, the borscht with veal through Ivan’s veal, Alina’s Kyiv cake but also herring rillettes (Odessa specialty), varenyky with apples. ground and candied onions with bacon or grechaniky (meat and buckwheat pancakes).

A typical Ukrainian card to support war victims: 5% of revenue will go to a refugee aid association. Just like the profits from the book Cooking very simple and helping Ukraine by Jean-François Mallet (Hachette Kitchen).

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