Ukraine seeks UN cultural status for beloved borscht. A culinary spat with Russia could be brewing.
Borscht is cooked in many different forms, from the pure beet barzcz common in Poland, to recipes that include mushrooms, fish, or sweet peppers. Basic ingredients include beets, cabbage, onions, potatoes and carrots. It is also common in Russia and Romania, leading to culinary disputes over which type of borscht is tastier or more authentic.
“Borscht is considered part of the fabric of Ukrainian society, cultural heritage, identity and tradition,” the UN says, while noting that inclusion on its Urgent Safeguarding List “does not does not imply exclusivity or ownership of the heritage concerned”.
Borscht and the best way to cook it have long been the subject of heated disputes between Russians and Ukrainians, long before the invasion in February, with Ukrainian chefs creating a compendium of regional variations. And, like arguments in Middle Eastern countries over hummus, it’s a subject with many partisan defenders but no outright claimants, born from traditions that predate today’s national borders.
In a Telegram post on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the borscht came from Russian residents of Kyiv, citing an obscure 16th-century document. “Now live with it,” she wrote.
“Food, like language, is the first and last cultural bastion,” Marianna Dushar, a Ukrainian anthropologist and food writer, told The Washington Post in 2020. “We grow with it and associate with it. Countries communicate with other countries through food.
Immigrants to the United States from borscht-producing areas also made their own recipe. In an article for Bon Appétit magazine, food writer Claire Saffitz called an Ashkenazi Jewish preparation “the greatest recipe of all time.”
“It’s something every grandma teaches her child to do,” said Jason Birchard, the third-generation owner of Veselka, a popular 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant in New York’s East Village, in a telephone interview, adding praise to UNESCO. SEO.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Birchard said that any profits he made from selling borscht internally and online would be donated to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. So far, the restaurant has raised over $200,000.
“I have customers who tell me they don’t like borscht but want to contribute $100,” Birchard said.
Duplain reported from London and Tsui from Washington. Robyn Dixon in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.