The Breadbasket of the World


Located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is often called the “breadbasket of the world.” Wheat (rye) is central to traditional dishes, but many Ukrainian recipes draw on ingredients from further afield. The cuisine incorporates both Slavic and European techniques, as a result of centuries of foreign rule and influence.

The chernozems of central Ukraine are among the most fertile soils in the world. They comprise two-thirds of the country’s area and are divided into three broad zones: in the north, deep chernozems, up to 5 feet (1.5 metres) thick and rich in humus; in the central region, an intermediate belt that is slightly thinner but still very fertile; and the southern belt, which is much lighter and less rich in humus.

While the chernozems have helped make Ukraine one of the world’s leading grain exporters, they also have contributed to political instability. The soils are so prone to erosion that it is difficult to cultivate them without a huge investment in irrigation and other infrastructure. The high level of silt has contributed to the river flooding that has become a familiar sight in many cities, and soil pollution is a major concern.

Since regaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine has struggled to balance its interests as a sovereign state and to bridge profound divisions between the east and west. In the past, nationalist Ukrainian-speaking westerners generally supported closer integration with Europe, while the Russian-speaking population in the east favored tighter ties with Russia.

In recent years, a series of popular uprisings and armed conflict have destabilized the nation, but new President Petro Poroshenko has pledged to fight for Ukraine’s national unity and sovereignty. This is an opportune moment to learn more about the history of Ukraine and its complex intersections with art, culture, and geopolitics.

The Maidan protests that erupted in the fall of 2013 against the corrupt, pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych were unprecedented in scale and scope in modern Ukrainian history. Protesters formed a self-contained city-within-a-city on Kyiv’s central Independence Square, braving bitter cold and the brutality of regime-sponsored riot police to demand greater political freedom.

Ukraine’s complicated and tumultuous relationship with Russia has informed both its national identity and its cultural heritage. In this exhibit, discover how art and culture in Ukraine have reflected and responded to the rise of the Soviet Union and the country’s struggle for independence.

This restaurant is right on the Kiev cycling track and has a cool interior featuring bicycle wheels. They serve Asian and Vietnamese food with a Ukrainian twist. You can choose between beef, turkey, chicken or fish burgers and pair them with a signature cocktail made by one of the best bartenders in Kiev. Whisky Corner has over 900 whisky varieties to choose from and the servers are happy to recommend the perfect pairing. They also offer some tasty vegetarian options.