Amid the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, locals are banding together to promote the country’s independence. Supporting Ukrainian-owned businesses and independent media is a great way to show your solidarity with the people of Ukraine. You can also lend aid via the Ukraine Red Cross website.
The Ukraine has some of the world’s best farmland and is a major grain producer, with over 60% of its land being suitable for farming. Its fertile soil, known as chornozem, supports a diversity of crop varieties, from wheat and barley to potatoes, carrots, rye, sugar beets, corn, and sunflowers. The country’s rich agricultural heritage reflects the diverse cultural roots of its people.
Following the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917, the Ukrainian people achieved a short-lived period of independence, only to endure brutal Soviet rule that engineered two forced famines that killed between 7 and 8 million civilians. After Ukraine’s liberation from the Soviet Union in 1991, President Zelensky has focused on strengthening Ukraine’s civic identity and moving forward its bid to join the EU and NATO.
While many Western-style supermarkets are growing up around the country, traditional Ukrainian foods continue to thrive. Breads made with rye or wheat flour are ubiquitous, and potatoes play a central role in every meal. Ukrainian cuisine also has a long tradition of making use of local produce, and it often overlaps with neighboring cuisines and Ashkenazi Jewish food traditions. Some of the most well-known dishes include borshch (the sometimes hard-to-pin-down beet soup, though it’s often not even made with beets); varennyky (dumplings with any number of possible savory or sweet fillings); holodets, or aspic, consisting of cold broth jellied from the bones and cartilage of pork legs; and cured meats like sausages and salo.
In the capital city of Kyiv, the oldest brewery in the country continues to operate. The Mykulynetsky Brovar dates back to 1497, when a German ally of the ruler of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth stopped in Mykulyntsi and sent beer back to him, thus earning it its slogan, “Beer Brewed for the King.” The company was nationalized during the Soviet period and has since been privatized.
Today, the nation’s craft brewing scene has blossomed as brewers seek to differentiate themselves from big-name international brands. Obolon is one such independent brewer that’s redefining Ukraine’s beer. In addition to the standard ingredients of water, malt, hops, and yeast, their flagship lager, Obolon Pilsner, is brewed with rice for a milder taste. They also produce Obolon White, an Obolon Extra Strong, and the Zhygulivske Svitle line, which harks back to the days of Soviet-era beers with its more malty flavor.
Whisky lovers should head to the Whisky Corner, which serves the best whiskies in Kiev and pairs spirits with its fine meals. Its 900+ selection of whiskies is sure to please any whiskey connoisseur. The menu also features traditional Scottish dishes, so you can try a bit of Scotland in Ukraine. The servers at Whisky Corner are happy to recommend the perfect whisky for you.