The Food and Culture of Ukraine

Ukraine is a country with an ancient history, vibrant culture, and rich natural resources. Its landscape is dominated by level plains and the Carpathian Mountains that extend across its western region. The Dnieper (Dnipro), Southern Buh (Pivdennyy Buh), and Donets rivers are major waterways. The nation is a significant producer of coal, iron ore, oil, and gas.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, much of what is now Ukraine fell under sporadic Polish-Lithuanian control or was occupied by a loosely defined host of peasant warriors known as the Cossacks. This group of largely Orthodox East Slavs developed a strong cultural affinity with Muscovite Russia but did not wish to be integrated into the Russian state. Instead, they created de facto independent states referred to as the Zaporizhian Sich and later the Hetmanate.

One of the most famous dishes in Ukrainian cuisine is kapusniak, a hearty soup made from meat (usually boiled sausages), eggs, potatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. It is traditionally prepared for weddings, funerals, and Christmas dinners, but can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Another Ukrainian staple is borscht, a classic beetroot soup that is made from meat broth, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and beets that give it its signature color. Every family and region has its own version, and each is delicious.

Borscht is also a popular ingredient in salads and other cold dishes. It is often mixed with chicken or pork, and served with sour cream on the side. It is a popular ingredient in kolovetsi, a type of stuffed bread that can be sweet or savory.

Another dessert that is very popular in Ukraine is varenyky. These dumplings come in many different variations, from sour ones with boiled ground meat or liver and fried onions to sweet ones filled with cottage cheese and served with sour cream and vanilla.

Other popular desserts in Ukraine include oshka, a fruity jelly with poppy seeds, and sweet pampushky, which are like doughnut holes that are typically tossed in sugar. Other popular dishes include borscht, oshka, oshki, kolovetsi, and ryba. The country is also home to numerous music, theater, and film festivals. Ukrainians are highly media savvy, and the nation has its own television channels and radio stations. However, since the beginning of full-scale war in 2014, social media has replaced TV as a primary news source for many citizens. The conflict has also disrupted the nation’s newspaper industry, with new Ukrainian outlets gaining in popularity and Russian-based outlets losing viewers. The country is a member of the European Union, the World Trade Organization, NATO, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia. The capital is Kyiv. Other large cities include Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Odesa. Ukraine’s total population is about 45 million.