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Soup ... is soup

Published January 26th, 2012

Borscht, either red or green, though Ukrainians LOVE it, is simply soup. Here they call soup soup except for the beloved borscht. So when traveling to Ukraine (or Russia) just go with the words and make them happy, even though in your mind you know what it really is ... soup. Red uses beets, green uses sorrel. Green could be called Sorrel and Pork Soup ... but make no mistake traditional Green has sorrel in it, NOT spinach. Period.

Traditional red, uses beets, nice RED BEETS. Period. often there is a small amount of tomato paste added. Anything else is just a variant of some sort of tomato soup.

Most Americans I know dread beets, though I am not entirely sure why. Could it be they have almost no taste? Stain your hands red? I don't know, as I have always loved beets.

These "soups" are served with a dollop of sour cream.

So, do I have photos? hell no, and I should, since I either have one or the other 4 or 5 days a week and the other days some sort of "other soup". My family loves borscht, I on the other hand am a little tired of it. Actually .. a lot tired of it. But I am a good boy and eat my soup everyday. (I like red the best if you need to know.) You don't need photos of "soup" it won't even make you hungry. Trust me. If you really really need a photo, come to Ukraine, take all the borscht photos you want and post them on Facebook, no one with thank you for it.

Ukrainian Food: Can be summed up in one word....BLAND. The flavor profile is almost flat. Ukrainians, who travel less than Americans do, have no real concept of international cuisine. Almost French like in their attitude to national dishes, the Ukrainians think there food is the bee's knees. We do not have the diverse selection that everyone else has, we have no Chinatowns or Korea towns or Thai or Spanish or Italian quarters.

Ok. I will grant that Ukrainian food is actually pretty healthy, since we, (we .. since I am now part of the Ukrainian populace), do not have an over abundance of pre-mixed, pre-prepared, just heat and serve foods loaded with preservatives. I would hazard to guess that maybe 80% of all food here is prepared fresh. In my house I can easily say 90%. The other 10% is either mayonnaise or one of the many many excellent ketchups, pasta, and maybe some candies.

In Bila Tserkov, fresh cheese, milk, eggs, vegetables, meats and nearly everything else is grown locally. Even McDonalds uses Bila Tserkov milk. I have no issue with the fresh food here, even though in winter we get ours from maybe Turkey or farther south. In the USA you get stuff from South America. But I do have an issue with the Ukrainian cheese, as to me it all tastes the same. We just don't have the proper molds here to produce true artisan cheese. Meh...cheese is fattening anyway.

Speaking of FAT. Salo, lightly smoked pork fat, and I do mean LIGHTLY. I suspect they run the pig through the smoke house for about 10 seconds before he is slaughtered. The fat is stripped off and we eat it raw. And damn, it is good. You have no idea how good. County Bila Tserkov and the five surrounding counties produce the best tasting pork belly fat. YUMMIE!!

I know it sounds gross! We eat it in slices, or my favorite way, which is to grind it up with fresh garlic, a little pepper and a pinch of parsley until it is smooth like butter, and spread it on toasted bread. OMG.

Ok, enough about food, I can go on and on about good, bad, hot, cold, gross table manners, moonshine etc., and I may at a later date. But I was supposed to tell how I got here and go all "oriental" on you about how the path we walk is obscured before us and our destiny is only revealed to us in the end and other poetic deep thinking crap like that. The truth is, all that stuff comes to me at like 3 am when I get up to go pee and can't get back to sleep, then I go back to sleep and forget all of it with my first cup of coffee a few hours later.

hey I actually moved my map marker to B.T., kinda proud about that.

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