Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Food in Ukraine

This was in a recent comment: "I was wondering, one of my friends here (Russian) was saying they were talking to someone from Ukraine and they were saying that while they are not badly off that they do not have plentiful food like we do here and giving a child a candy is more rare and a special treat. I was wondering how true you found that!"

Interesting. What time period are we talking about? I do think the famines hit harder here years ago and possible even scarred people more than in Russia, but now there's tons of food here. Oh, and are we comparing Ukraine to Russia or America?

Actually, food was one of the first little differences that I noticed here after Russia. Everything grows here! And abundantly! Where people jealously guard their gardens in Russia, here they can't give away enough. Very soon after we got here last year, I was walking with our children and a few neighbor kids. We passed an apricot tree hanging over a fence, and they all started begging. I said, "No, it's not our tree," looking at all the nearby babushki, and figuring that they would start yelling if we touched the tree. Instead they started yelling at me, because I wouldn't let the children eat the abundance! They don't sleep at their dachas just to keep thieves away here, and no one worries about people stealing from the potato plot.

Another story: a few weeks ago a friend was telling me that she had been chatting online with someone in Russia. She asked him if he liked fried squash. He said that he couldn't remember what it tastes like. Then she went through the list of things that they were eating from their garden right now. He didn't have any of them. She finally asked, "So what does grow in Russia?" and he said, "Pine cones." Ukraine was the breadbasket of the USSR, after all.

Now, if you're comparing what's in the stores to what's in American stores, there is less variety. But there's no lack of quantity. Less specialty items here, of course.

And candy. . . if only there was some way to stop the constant flow of it! (People do still talk about how there didn't used to be any. Elderly people often give children candy and say that it's because they didn't have any in their own childhoods.)

Also, like I said, people are still scarred from lean years in the past. They'll go on and on about the prices, when it just looks like natural fluctuation to us. I've almost seen runs on bread, just because of rumors that the prices will be going up a few kopecks. Most people are very frugal and won't throw away anything, no matter how much they have. Really, if you were to talk to someone about food here, they might moan about the prices, but I think that's mostly out of habit.

Of course, I'm not an expert. Just my own observations here.


Baba Julie said...

Uh Oh!! More "flow" on its way!!(: Love y'all!!

Matt said...

That's so interesting! I guess it should put us Americans into our place as it relates to our perspective on food. We have so much and are always griping for more kinds, more choices, etc. If only we could appreciate our plenty for what it truly is!

Martha A. said...

They were talking about right now! I wondered though if it was really that way as I have not heard of a loss of food in Ukraine. That is really interesting though! I wish too here I could stop the flow of candy from helpful people of Russian/Ukrainian descent.....
They were comparing Ukraine to USA.
Maybe she lived in a bad part? She was not a Christian so maybe she was just bitter about her lot in life? Maybe it was just habit or she was talking about variety. They eat alot of the same foods though here too. Meatballs, mashed potatoes, cooked meat, tomato/cucumber salad, cabbage salad, bread and tea with cookies etc. Do they eat similar things still over there?

I have got to visit over there someday!

3girlsmom said...

You need to see this video. I don't know a lot about Ukrainian history, but those who do, LOVE this video.


Love you!

3girlsmom said...

Oops. Try this link.


Phyllis said...

Robyn, unfortunately that video doesn't work here. What's it about?