Ievhen Klopotenko: If history had DNA, then food would be a part of it.


I have travelled a lot. And I watched a lot of people who travelled. We had one thing in common: we got to know the country through the food of its people. Because food is always a reflection of how and with what people live. What they are proud of and what they want to share with the world.

Ievhen Klopotenko, chef, restaurateur, researcher of Ukrainian cuisine 

 We fall in love through food. We always remember the tastes that accompanied our experience of a new country. I have been studying food for many years, drawing parallels between a person's inner world and what they eat. And I know one thing for sure. Food is the story of people. It is the culture of families. It is part of the national idea. For example, Italians and Americans both eat tomatoes. But there is a huge difference in how these two nations treat them and talk about them. This is because culture and history are different. Recipes and food preparation practices passed down through generations carry a powerful energy from the past to the present. If history had a DNA, food would be part of it.

Ukrainian cuisine has a strong character. This is what distinguishes us from other nations. And this is what Russia has never liked. That we are different. That is why the Soviet Union made all the countries it held equal. It destroyed Ukrainian books, rewrote our history and promoted all-Soviet dishes. So that everyone would speak the same language, eat the same food and be the same. Propaganda, shortages, prohibition. Despotism, dictatorship, fear. The logic is simple: if you want to change and tame a nation, take away its food.

But Ukrainians have managed to preserve their identity. We are strong and we are fighters. We do not lose ourselves. We have preserved so much of what is ours that we can share it. And that's why today I'm honoured and delighted to offer you flavours that make you feel: "Welcome to Ukraine, we welcome you and want to share our love". Because we, Ukrainians, have proved that when something is real and not artificially created, when something is engraved in the heart of the nation, no one can ever destroy it. The cultural characteristics of our people are hidden in our food, in the way it is prepared and in the ingredients of our dishes. We have preserved the traditions of our ancestors in Ukrainian cuisine and reinvented them.

I hope I haven't bored you yet. I could go on and on about our cuisine, its relationship with history and much more. There is still a little left, because we have moved on to another link in the chain - the region. Through the dominant ingredients and the logic of cooking, you can learn more about our regions.

But you should know that everything that grows on Ukrainian soil is uniquely tasty. You will not find such sweet products anywhere else. Because the Ukrainian land is something special: a bit of the energy of our people, their love, strength, magic and black earth, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else. Ukraine tells its unique story to the world through these products. About the fight for freedom and independence. About self-confidence and the return to historical sources. About the history of combining tastes, the identity of each region and their synergy. We have Polissya with berries, wildlife and mushrooms. The Carpathians with their cheeses, forest herbs and honey.

Сarp fried in sour cream

The Black Sea region and Bessarabia - fish, seafood, wine, fruit and vegetables.Steppe - grains and cereals. Central Ukraine has excellent kvass and pickles. If you are in Slobozhanshchyna, you should try wrinkled mushrooms.

Lviv cheesecake

And Galicia, in general, combines the culinary traditions of different peoples. Ukraine is about Transcarpathian cheese and southern watermelon, Podil cabbage and Polish kulish, Dnieper fish and Trans-Dnieper vergun with Donetsk sour cream,

Beet kvass

Galician coffee and beet kvass, Myrhorod lard, fruit distillate, honey and beekeeping products, Zenkiv sausage and Poltava dumplings. And, of course, the symbol of our nation's unity is borsch.


You can find it in every region, in every family. Try it wherever you are, because borsch will always be different. You will not find the same taste. I told you that people's food is about their history. Not only in terms of the country, but also in terms of very personal stories that they have encoded in their recipes.


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