Saturday, 9 January 2010

Ukrainian Feast Details

The traditional Christmas Eve Feast at Taste of Ukraine was fabulous! The restaurant's decor recreates a Ukrainian village using murals, thatch, wattle, trees full of lights like innumerable stars, traditional embroidered clothing hung on clotheslines and other colourful touches. There was also a large, beautifully decorated Christmas tree. A braided loaf of bread (kolach) with a white candle in it sat at the centre of each table on top of a handful of straw (representing the Christ child in the manger).

On Christmas Eve day, Ukrainian Catholics fast to commemorate the hardships suffered by the pregnant Virgin Mary en route to Bethlehem. Then in the evening, the fast is broken by the Holy Supper of 12 meatless and dairy-free dishes, symbolizing the 12 Apostles. Each dish comes either from the field, the garden, the orchard or the sea and symbolizes that all creation welcomes the Christ child.

The first thing eaten is a small dish of kutya -- cooked whole wheat sweetened with honey and poppy seeds. It symbolizes fertility and family. (Delicious!)

Next was a lovely bowl of beet borsch containing an ushka (a perogy stuffed with garlic and mushrooms). Sliced kolach (braided bread) was served with garlic spread.

The third course was a plate of cold appetizers: pickled herring, beet vinaigrette, and cod/salmon studynetz (headcheese). I'm not a big fish eater but I tried everything.

The fourth course was the hot entree: a large plate of fried sole, varenyky (perogies) stuffed with potato and onion (yum!), holubtsi (cabbage rolls), mashed beans with garlic, baked sauerkraut and garlic mushrooms to die for! During this course, a small group of young men and women in traditional costumes sang Christmas carols in Ukrainian.

Finally, a delicious dessert plate: uzvar (stewed apricots and prunes), pampushky (jam donuts), makivnyk (poppy seed roll) and khrustyky (pastry strips with icing sugar). I don't believe the dessert items are counted as part of the 12 traditional dishes, since they contain dairy products. But still, a nice conclusion to the meal!

Oh, we had a fabulous time -- good food and good company! It took an unrushed couple of hours to eat all the courses and everyone went home stuffed. My Rare One and I just loved it!

[Photos are from Taste of Ukraine's website]


Renee said...

It sounds amazing. I was just wondering what you ate.


brandi said...

~the first pictue is oh so beautiful...glad you savored such a memorable treat! brightest blessings~

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

What a wonderful setting! You're so lucky to have it available to you.

And thank you for all the background information. I know nothing of this. Well, I didn't. Before reading here.

mxtodis123 said...

What a feast you had!!! I'm not much of a fish eater either, but I saw plenty there that I would eat. Glad you had a great time.


wow the ukrainians really know how to party..unlike the czech who's idea of a party is sausage and beer.
the food made me drool...

Emme Toaye said...

ooohhhh, you live such a rich yummy life and it smells sooo good here! But, I have to pass on the "Kutya", I hope you understand. O.K. maybe just a taste...uh oh! You have a wonderfully detailed and fragrant way with words. All my blogs are so short, but them I'm short too.

Rue said...

What a beautiful atmosphere! I would love sitting under the clothes lines and twinkle lights!

Dinner sounds great (I'm not much of a fish eater either though.)

A great way to spend an evening!

Dancing With Fey said...

The mushroom and garlic dish sounds delicious! :)

Brandi Reynolds said...

this sounds wonderful! what a great way to celebrate the holiday. (followed you over from a comment on suzie's blog)

Suzie said...

How VERY beautiful, and what an amazing evening!

I didn't know anything about these traditions at all, and found your post VERY interesting and entertaining!

I'm SO happy that you got to experience this, and shared it with us!

Thanks so much!!

Barbara said...

Ukranian food is one thing I have not experimented with, though I absolutely love beets (borsht) and the rest sounds divine! What a fun dinner. Don't you just love doing meals like that? Special.

Miss Robyn said...

sounds brilliant! I love to read about celebrations like this.. there is something so sacred and spiritual about ancient customs that are kept going down through the ages.. love it!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds amazing! I particularly love all the ritual significance around it - observing the Vigrin Mary's struggle and the apostles, and all creation welcoming the coming Lord - so theatrical and yet meaningful!

Fly said...

Ukrainian food is one of reasons to visit this country. Meals in Ukraine are both tasty and beautiful.There are numerous restaurants and bars where you can try local meals. Most of them are not very complicated so you will be able to try to cook them at home. Welcome to Ukraine and enjoy delicious local food!