Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Round of Thanks!

During our recent trip to Ukraine, we found a vast, beautiful, changing country of great diversity, both in communities and landscape. We saw dramatic coastlines, vast fertile fields of wheat, high mountain meadows, large cities and tiny villages, all with a wide array of foods and traditions.
However, more important are the many people we met along the way and those that continue to support the Pickle Project, without whom our work would not be possible.  Our partners are a cornerstone of the Pickle Project. Their enthusiastic on-the-ground assistance during this trip and ongoing collaborations make a great difference in our work. Specific thanks to:
· Ihor and Tania Poshyvailo from the Ivan Honchar Museum, Kyiv (with translation assistance from Valentina Bochkovska)
· Valentyna Sakhenko from Eko-Art, Donetsk
· Hannah Shelest from Promotion of Intercultural Cooperation, Odessa
· Ihor Savchuk, Sofiya Kosarchyn, Bozhena Zakaliuzhna and Olha Kotska from the Centre for Cultural Management, L’viv
Our thanks also go to a very long list (we hope we haven’t missed anyone) of wonderful people who provided translation, food and cultural research suggestions and ideas, transportation support and coordination, a place to rest our weary heads, a lovely meal with family, and so much more. In no particular order, we raise an appreciative glass to:
  • The entire Leonenko family, Donetsk (and Irina, there in spirit!)
  • Svitlana and Vladimir Salamatov, their family and neighbors,  Kyiv
  • Neshet, Lenura, Serdar and Safie Seytaptiev, Ak-Meshet, Crimea
  • Katia Burkush, Kyiv
  • Barb Weiser, Peace Corps Volunteer, Simferopol/Ak-Meshet, Crimea
  • Cheryl Pratt, Peace Corps Volunteer, Sovetskiy, Crimea
  • Lidia Lykhach, Kyiv/US
  • Galina Chumak, Donetsk Art Museum, Donetsk
  • Staff at the village museum in Prelestno, Donetsk’a Oblast
  • Staff at the Greek museum in Sartana, Donetsk’a Oblast
  • Workers at the restaurant in Sartana,  Donetsk’a Oblast
  • Lyubov, Ethnographer from the Museum of Local History, Donetsk
  • Alie Yuldasheva, Simferopol
  • Arzy Emirova, Crimea
  • Christi-Anne Hofland, L’viv
  • Eugene Chervony (L’viv) and family, L’vivska Oblast
  • Ania Ivanchenko, Donetsk
  • Alexandra Kirichenko, Donetsk
  • Carina, Donetsk
  • Natalia Bogachova, Odessa
  • Olya Kik, Oksana Terteka and Halja Pavlyshyn, L’viv
  • Nataliya Stryamets and the entire Stryamets family, L’viska Oblast
  • Olya and Mykola in Akreshori, Ivano-Frankivs'ka oblast
  • Cheesemakers Vasyl, Mykolya, Mykolya and others
  • All the market vendors everywhere!
Of course, last but certainly not least, we also extend our warmest gratitude to our Kickstarter backers, as well as key supporting partners Shelburne Farms and the Trust for Mutual Understanding, that enable us to conduct this vital fieldwork, continue to expand our network and further build the Pickle Project!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lunch, Soviet-Style

We had great home-cooked meals throughout Ukraine and saw and tasted tremendous fresh and pickled fruit and vegetables in markets and elsewhere.  But in Yalta, in Crimea, we came across a remnant of the old Soviet-style of eating out--a stolovaya, or canteen.  These canteens--or cafeterias--still exist across the former Soviet Union and once existed in every school and workplace.
But it was surprising to find one just off the seaside promenade in Yalta,  where fancy clothing stores and expensive restaurants abound.   Not at all crowded the day we ate there, it really did have the feeling of a different time.  Nicholas II built a palace just south of the city, but in the 20th century,  the entire Crimean Peninsula became a favored vacation spot for Soviet workers, with hundreds of sanitoriums dotting the rocky hillsides.  So the place we found was an echo of a past, and it seemed as if the only people eating there, besides us, were older folks who remembered that different time.
A series of large dining rooms came off the small cafeteria line. Out the lace curtains,  a seaside view.  The selections were pretty minimal:  borscht and solyanka for soup,  cutlets,  a sort of unknown goulash, cabbage salad, cucumber and tomato salad, compote (fruit drink) and bread.   But it was really affordable (I see that stolovayas are often recommended in Lonely Planet guidebooks) and the food was dull, but edible.
Today, restaurants of every type abound in every large Soviet city: sushi, Italian,  Ukrainian,  Indian, and of course, fast food including McDonalds and the Ukrainian McFoxy.  It's hard for me to imagine the time when this,  this simple food,  was what eating out was.   Our meal in Yalta provided that important reminder (and slightly alarmed the 17 year-old boy with us, who wanted to eat at the McDonalds down the way).

Friday, July 22, 2011

One Last Market Report: L'viv, July 2011

Sarah and I have returned home to the US with thousands of photos and pages of notes--but here's one more market report from our last city visit in Ukraine, L'viv.  Enjoy!   Above, a salad vendor.  Below, a lovely mother/daughter team selling houseplants.
A pampushki (doughnut) vendor hidden amongst the sunglasses for sale.
Beans and carrots, and below,  a mural in the dairy/meat building and two kinds of mushrooms.
And smetana, sour cream, which bears absolutely no resemblance to any sour cream you might eat in the United States.  Delicious.
And finally, on a record-breaking hot day all across the United States, a cooling glimpse of watermelon as we come to a temporary end to market reports from Ukraine, but the start of many more blog posts on all we saw, learned and experienced. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Market Report: Odessa, July 2011

We're having a hard time keeping up with posts, but last night made a list of more than 50 posts we want to write based on our amazing time here.  We promise we'll get to all of them sooner or later!  But for now, a quick market report from Odessa.  Above, a beautiful bowl of sour cherries.
A shy market vendor shows off his dried apricots.
Pickled apples.  Anyone ever tried them?
Many kinds of sunflower seeds, a popular snack everywhere in Ukraine--fried in a pan and eaten!
Odessa's market vendors were virtually all incredibly friendly--and this one was kind enough to pose for a picture...but then...
This market lady called the two of us over, and whipped out her pocket camera to snap one of the two of us together.
No, not Coke, but hand-squeezed juices including pomegranate and grapefruit.  Recycling at its best.
And a shy young vendor (just finished sleeping, his mom said) amidst beautiful greens.  Next up, market post from L'viv!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Market Report, Simferopol, July 2011

We've already moved on after a terrific time in Simferopol but wanted to post these market pictures.  Above, one of the Korean salad vendors (I believe most of these vendors or their families originally came to the Soviet Union from North Korea to study).  In addition to the carrot salad above,  kimchee,  tofu and other salads were all gorgously arrayed in her case.
Simferopol is the only place we've seen plov cooked at a market.  It's a rice dish, a bit like paella in that it's cooked outside in a large flat pan, and is a food associated here with Crimean Tatars, a dish they brought back from their forced exile in Uzbekistan.
Shashlik, or shish kebabs, is associated with picnics and outdoor eating all over Ukraine.  But here in Simferopol was the only market where we've seen little outdoor restaurants for shashlik in the market.
The shashlik vendors here had long, narrow, specially-constructed charcoal grills, exactly the width of the skewer.  Easy to cook!
This young girl was working at her family's shashlik stand.
Red chilis--not as common a sight in more northern markets.  Also in Simferopol, because it's on a peninsula surrounded by the sea, there seemed to be many more fish vendors, selling a wide variety of fish, both fresh and smoked or dried.
And of course, what would any market be without fresh fruit or vegetable sellers.  Here, we buy beautiful fresh, fragrant basil.
Overall, the market somehow seemed to have a more southern feel, more outdoors in some way.
Coming up in our next market report:  Odessa.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mystery Fruit!

And, now, a fruit identification challenge for Pickle Project readers! Yesterday, at a sidewalk market in Yalta, we encountered these little guys. They have smooth, firm orange skin and are sweet. We asked for the name in Russian, which I earnestly repeated several times, then, immediately forgot. (Moosh something?) The woody stem suggests a larger tree. This fruit is equally mysterious to eight of eight Crimean Tatar friends and colleagues sampled. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Market Report: on the road between Donetsk and Mariupol, July 2011

On Tuesday, on our way back to Donetsk from Sartana, the Greek village near Mariupol, we stopped at a highway-side market to see what was for sale.  The vendors told us they were all from nearby villages.  Here's what was for sale.  Above, pickles and pickled peppers.
Zucchini and patty pan squash.
Hazelnuts (the first we've seen in a from-the-village kind of market)
These are Georgian, we think.  They are an almond stuffed inside a grape surrounded by a sort of hard fruit jelly.  Anyone know the name?
Red and black currants.
Smoked fish.  And finally,  two market vendors who were kind enough to pose for us at their work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Market Report: Kyiv, July 1, 2011

We haven't posted for a few weeks because we've been getting ready for our planning trip to Ukraine--and here we are!  Many more posts to come from the road these next few weeks,  but to start, some mouth-watering photos from two Kyiv markets this past week.  Berries, stone fruits, herbs for canning,  and young garlic, radishes, and greens were in full beautiful bloom.  Enjoy!
 Beautiful blueberries!
 Raspberries displayed in hand-made splint baskets.
 Gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries.
 So many berries, including at center, tiny wild strawberries.  And now for the greens...
 Cucumbers, radishes, greens.  Notice how the staples of cabbage and potatoes take a back seat in the summer months.
 Young garlic.
 Dill and grape leaves packaged together to make a pickling bouquet.
 Chanterelle mushrooms, gathered about two hours away and brought to the market for sale.
Carrots and hot peppers.

We've arrived in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, an entirely different landscape to explore.  Stay tuned!