Like every country, Ukraine, too, has places, things, cuisine, objects, attires, and events that carry tremendous cultural importance.
One among them is the traditional dish, the Ukrainian borscht. Borscht is a type of sweet-sour soup that is rich in nutrition. It is prepared during special occasions, ceremonies, rituals, and even on Christmas Eve. It contains beetroot, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, among other vegetables, and herbs like garlic.
The lovers of a traditional bowl of Ukrainian borscht also add different types of meat. But as a rule, meat is mostly avoided when it is prepared during religious occasions. Meat is replaced with dumplings, also known as uzska. The Ukrainian borscht is usually red in color and is topped with sour cream, green onions, and a sliced hard-boiled egg sliced in half for garnishing.
It is noteworthy that Ukraine is not the only country where borscht is prepared. Variations of this soup are found across Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. It has become a part of the culinary heritage of Ukraine, but its origin is debatable. Among the other nations, Russia has also claimed that borscht originated in its land.
From what is known, borscht was mentioned for the first time in the Ukrainian dictionary in 1552. But the root word, borsch, has been around since Eastern Slavic times. Some culinary experts and historians believe that this dish is perhaps much older.
But following the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia at the beginning of the year, many of Ukraine’s heritage, traditions, culinary heritage, architectural structures, and other things of cultural importance have been destroyed. The Ukrainian borscht was soon declared an endangered traditional dish.
Taking note of this, in July, UNESCO added ‘The Culture of Ukrainian borscht cooking” to its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
And that’s how this traditional soup will now live on for time immemorial.