The Patriotism of Ukrainians chases away Russian Dishes from the New Year TableUkraine | December 30, 2022, Friday // 12:00| views
Olivier salad also known as "Russian salad" in Bulgaria
Two salads of Russian origin usually decorate New Year's tables in the post-Soviet space - "Shuba", including herring and beetroot, and the potato salad "Olivier" (known in Bulgaria as "Russian salad"). However, many restaurants in Kyiv have removed them from the menus - because of the war.
Tetyana Mitrofanova, owner of the "Chasing Two Hares" inn in the historical center of the Ukrainian capital, does not hesitate at all - ten months after the invasion of the Russian army, these dishes have no place on the table.
"We have to turn the page," summarizes the 58-year-old woman, sitting on one of the sofas in the restaurant, where she is organizing a new year concert that will last until the morning.
"This will be the first year for me without Olivier and Shuba salads," adds the restaurateur, who plans to serve traditional Kyiv dishes instead, such as stuffed perch.
"I know that for the people who come to spend the (New Year's) night with us, it will be unforgettable," continues Tetyana, who sees the upcoming party as an opportunity for a "psychological new start."
She is also not worried that customers will not be able to leave between 11:00 p.m. and 05:00 a.m. because of the curfew: "When they come to us, people enter a new dimension (...) where time goes unnoticed."
"The war for borscht"
Culinary aspects of patriotism in Ukraine developed especially strongly after 2014, when Crimea was annexed by Moscow, and then, with the support of Russia, an armed uprising began in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.
The Russian invasion, which began on February 24 at the behest of Vladimir Putin, in turn spurred Ukrainian gastronomic patriotism, which reached its peak in July - Ukraine got UNESCO to include in its list of endangered intangible cultural heritage the "culture of borscht" - soup, for whose homeland is also declared to be Russia.
One victory for Ukraine in this "war for borscht".
The restaurant "Chasing Two Hares", named after a 1961 Soviet film comedy, is not content with just changes to the New Year's menu - it is also making another contribution to the war effort.
Like other kitchens in the city, when the first bombs began to fall on Kyiv in February, Tetyana fed hundreds of people who were left with nothing to eat.
Then she sent provisions to the soldiers defending the city of Hostomel from Russian forces, where a fierce battle broke out for a strategic airport in the Kyiv region.
Ultimately, in the spring, the Kremlin's army was forced to withdraw, abandoning attempts to capture Kyiv to focus its efforts on eastern and southern Ukraine.
"I met the commander (of the unit from Hostomel) only after five months - says Tetyana. I have not met any of our boys, but I love them, every single one of them", the restaurateur continues tearfully, as three of these men have recently fallen in battle.
In recent days, her kitchen staff have prepared lamb-shaped cakes for the troops at the front. And one of the cooks, mobilized, has just left for his training camp.
"So many other salads"
To change the menu, excluding from it the dishes associated with Russia, is the smallest thing for the chef Nataliya Khomenko: "There is a way, and this is exactly what should be done," she says.
"Chasing Two Hares" is far from the only establishment with this logic. Restaurant "Autostation" in Podolsky district is also revising its menu.
Here they will also make do without "Shuba" and "Olivier", replacing them with, for example, beetroot hummus and "Forshmak" - a baked mixture of mackerel, potatoes, sour cream, onions and peppers.
Much to the chagrin of director Anna Selesen, however, they will not be able to be included in the New Year's Eve menu - Russian bombings and constant power outages have not given her team the opportunity to master the preparation of these feasts in time.
“It doesn't matter - the restaurant already has its own generator and will serve these foods for the Orthodox Nativity, celebrated in Ukraine on January 7.”
“We have many traditional Ukrainian dishes, we don't need Russian ones”, says Anna Selesen. ”We can live without them, we even had to do this earlier.”
Naturally, she says, she will miss the “Shuba”, but "there are so many other salads to prepare".
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