Saturday, October 11, 2014

Roadside Honey

Just a few photos from a trip back from Mykolayiv. We stopped along the road  to purchase some honey and bee pollen.  The man had a huge selection of honey and honey-related products for sale, and my friend Ihor (that's him tasting above) had extensive conversation about the types (buckwheat, acacia and others);  the properties of bee pollen; and more.  He also had homemade wine and walnuts for sale, though we didn't come home with either.  According to Ihor, bees and honey were scarce this year in Poltava, his native region, so he stocked up on several varieties to take home.

As we made the long drive, we noticed that each village tended to sell one thing or the other.  We passed the village with a sugar plant, where big bags of sugar were for sale along the road.  On the road we also saw truck after truck filled with sugar beets.  In one village, potatoes for sale; in another, apples; another cabbages; and still another, sweet peppers.

For mile after mile, the incredible black dirt of Ukraine stretched out before us with the remainders of corn, sunflowers and other crops; and some fields set afire to burn off crops before winter.  I've traveled over a great deal of Ukraine on this trip, and find so many lovely parts that I'd like to explore.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Market Report: Riga's Central Market, September 2014

I had a chance to spend a few days in Riga, Latvia, this month and took time to go over to the city's large Central Market.  Filled with Saturday shoppers and pretty friendly market venders, including the young helper above,  the market was full of signs of autumn, so I wanted to share a bit of what I saw.  Starting with mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms, all kinds, all colors.

 Fruits of the season:  cranberries, apples, pears, grapes, plums and more.

Plus of course, the vegetables that tell us the long winter is coming.

But who can tell me what these stringy things at right are?

Riga has a rich fishing history, and a big fish section in the market, fresh, dried and smoked and a small cafe serving turbot and eel.

And of course, pickled all kinds of things.

And just a few more photos.  Riga is such a great city--including the market. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"A Very Home Place"

Just before Easter, I’d been emailing with my friend Tania Kochubinska, who lives and works in Kyiv, about another matter and asked her to send me her family’s Easter pictures. She sent several, saying although her family isn’t particularly religious, they all go to a family house for Easter. So of course, I wanted to know more about the place and the experience. Here’s what Tania shared with me.

We are not a religious family, but the tradition of painting eggs and baking Easter-cake is really kept. And recipe of baking Easter-cake, which is still being used by us, comes from my great grandma. Notwithstanding that I never went to a church to bless the Easter-cake (I used to go the church with my grandmother, but it was not an occasion on a special religious feast) we keep on baking it and just having always a very solemn dinner on Easter. And of course the tradition of battling with painted eggs is also kept, since childhood it is the most impressive and performative aspect of Easter. These photographs in this post were made in the house of my great grandma, we often go there. Sadly my grandparents are not alive, but the house is kept, and we go there. My mother and my father go there more often than I do.

It is not a village. My great grandmother was born in a village not far from this place, but it is a small industrial (used to be industrial) town of Konotop. It is famous for its important railway junction (all roads to Moscow go through Konotop). It is also famous because Kazimir Malevich is said to have worked for two years in this town as a draughtsman and there is a water tower designed by Vladimir Shukhov. The city is located in the East of the country, in the region of Sumy. My grandmother and grandfather lived there, and my great grandmother lived in this house, which is located in a private housing area.

Coming back to Easter again, frankly speaking in my family the sacral sense of Easter is not kept, but it is just a very family feast for me. We always have a dinner with aspic, Easter cake, eggs, it is only time a year, when we eat so many eggs, it is because of battling with eggs. Each holds a painted egg and tries to break the egg of the opponent and to keep his/her egg safe. That means we have lots of eggs to eat!

This house is like a very home place. Of course it is different for me than my mother. She used to live in that house since she was around 14 years old. For me it is about childhood. When I was young there were a lot of children coming from different cities (mainly Kyiv and Kharkiv) to visit their grandparents. There are different fruit trees left, but it is not about special gardening there-- we have flowers, some salads, but it is not the goal to grow fruits and vegetables, it is more about the atmosphere. When I go there I often think that it is really nice to have a private house. Because you feel your own planet there, but at the same time you are disconnected from the world.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Joyful Market in Odessa

Sarah and I love Odessa and regular readers know we love markets (as you can read in our earlier posts).  So we were immeasurably moved this week to see the flash mob performance of the Odessa Philharmonic's musicians. They chose to perform Ode to Joy, the European Union's anthem,  in a place that matters deeply to most Odessans, Privoz Market.  Amongst the fish and salo, a bit of joy. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ukraine: West, East, North, South

When Sarah and I began the Pickle Project, we were both clear in our minds that all of Ukraine interested us.  The different ethnic groups who call it home, the different landscapes that shape food production and consumption, the food we ate, and most of all, the people of this complex and beautiful country. The two of us had a rare chance to catch up yesterday and we found ourselves returning to the sunny, warm month of July, 2011. 
That's the month, thanks to you--our Kickstarter backers-- and the Trust for Mutual Understanding, that we packed our bags and traveled by train throughout Ukraine exploring food and traditions.  We began in Kyiv and headed to Donetsk, with side trips to villages in the Donbass,  to a Greek-Ukrainian village in Maripol; and then to Crimea, getting to stay in a Crimean Tatar settlement.  On to Odessa, then to L'viv and up into the mountains of the Trans-Carpathian region. We saw a great deal of Ukraine that month and met countless Ukrainians.  We visited markets everywhere and filed lots of market reports.  Here are ones from Kyiv,  from the road between Donetsk and Maripol,  from Simferopol, from Odessa, and from L'viv.   We ate in a Soviet-style cafeteria in Yalta and in a garden near L'viv.   and shared too many more memorable meals to mention.
As you read the news from Ukraine--from the west, from the east, from Crimea, from cities and villages; we wanted to encourage you to take a moment to re-read our thoughts from that trip, many written as it happened (and honestly, others still to be written) to gain a picture of the country you might only see now in images of tanks and protest banners.  And for us, as we re-visit that month, we again remember friends and strangers met along the way and send our very best wishes and hopes for the future of a democratic, united Ukraine.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Join Us!

The Pickle Project is expanding its Board and heartily welcomes interest from flexible and fun candidates to help us grow this fledgling organization. An interest in food, culture and sustainability in cross-cultural contexts, especially the post-Soviet space; and the ability to share and help forge interpersonal and organizational connections across interest areas and communities are essential to our work. Board participation includes quarterly virtual meetings and a willingness to engage in specific projects to help advance the work of the Pickle Project into the future! Please message us directly if interested.

Photo:  compote and flowers by Grace Eickmayer