While Ukraine may not be the first place that comes to mind for most travelers, this large Slavic country in Eastern Europe has a lot to offer. Expansive countryside, gorgeous architecture, centuries-old cathedrals, and rugged coastlines are just the beginning of what makes this country so unique. Ukraine also has a rich history that includes two world wars and the Chernobyl disaster. These experiences have shaped the Ukrainian culture, including its cuisine, which is known for being hearty and wholesome. Traditional Ukrainian foods encapsulate generations of traditions founded by hard-working people and incorporate flavors from neighboring countries like Poland, Russia, and Belarus. Cabbage and garlic are common ingredients found in many of Ukraine’s savory dishes, while cottage cheese is a popular ingredient in its sweet recipes.
As a result of the country’s rich and fertile soil, agriculture is a big part of life in Ukraine. Breads made from wheat and rye flour are commonplace, while vegetables and fruits such as potatoes, carrots, apples, and tomatoes play an important role in Ukrainian cooking. The dishes are inspired by both Slavic traditions and other European techniques, due to years of foreign rule and influence.
One of the most iconic dishes in Ukraine is borscht, which is often described as the original staple. The hearty soup is a blend of meat broth, cabbages, beets, and a variety of other vegetables and is prepared differently by every region in the country. The ingredients give borscht its signature red color, and it is often served with sour cream on top.
Another recognizable dish is holubtsi, which are boiled cabbage rolls. Each leaf of the cabbage is wrapped around a filling, which can be anything from mashed potatoes to boiled beef or pork liver. The dish is often served with sour cream and chopped parsley.
For dessert, kolachki are sweet dumplings that can be filled with anything from rose preserves to poppy seeds. They’re often tossed in sugar and serve as an ideal treat for children during the holidays. Another classic dessert is pampushki, which are similar to doughnut holes. They’re fried and usually covered in icing or chocolate.
Wine is a popular beverage in Ukraine and can be made from a variety of grapes. One of the most well-known wines from the country is Yafe Nagar, a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling from the Black Sea region.
Despite Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainians have kept their heads high and are working to reclaim their homeland. They’re united in their goal to regain as much territory as possible, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has focused on the civic identity of the nation, regardless of ethnic or linguistic background. It’s no wonder why he’s the most popular politician in the country.