Pre-reading

To your mind what are the key words which characterize Ukrainian cuisine.

There is a proverb in Ukrainian: Áîðù òà êàøà - ¿æà íàøà.Хліб та каша – їжа наша. Does it characterize Ukrainian cuisine?

&Reading

This text is taken from the book written by a native American. Read this article and say whether his impressions about Ukrainian food coincide with yours.

Ukrainian cuisine is a lot more varied than the borshch and varenyky often associated with it. The wealth of plants and animals raised in this fertile land accounts for a rich and varied diet; in addition, the cuisine was enriched from historical contacts with Europe and Asia. Despite the foreign influences, there is something original and distinctive about the way Ukrainians transform food into cuisine.

Like Italian cuisine, Ukrainian dishes show a sophisticated simplicity based on the goodness of the ingredients themselves and their natural flavors. Dishes are neither highly spiced nor bland, but subtle and pleasing, seasoned to perfection.

Bread, of course, is the mainstay of the Ukrainian diet and it is marvellous. Ukraine’s reputation as the “breadbasket of Europe” is well-deserved. The French writer Honore de Balzac, who lived in Ukraine from 1847 through 1850, counted 77 ways of preparing bread. Bread is so important a part of life that Ukrainians have a custom of greeting honored guests with a loaf of bread topped with a mound of salt. Ukrainian groups still use this custom today in welcoming ceremonies for dignitaries and important persons.

The most important vegetables are beets, cabbage, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and beans. These simple ingredients are transformed into sophisticated combinations of flavor and texture when spiced with the holy trinity of Ukrainian cuisine — garlic, vinegar, and dill.

Food is seasonal, therefore, preserved and pickled to last through the winter; pickled cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and even apples lend flavor and tartness to many dishes. Salads are very common, not the lettuce-based kind Americans eat, but combinations of fresh, cooked and occasionally preserved vegetables, often mixed with meats and cheeses in creative yet subtle blendings of flavors.


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