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I’ve got Ukraine on the brain and if you’re following the news, you probably do too. I don’t delve into politics on this platform (although I certainly do elsewhere) but I feel the need to shine a little light on Ukraine, at least through a culinary lens.
I lead a food tour through Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach area, also known as Little Odessa; Odessa is the third largest city in Ukraine and a major center of tourism. On that ethnojunket, we sample delicacies from Russia as well as Ukraine and other Former Soviet Union satellite countries like Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Sputnik – you know, the satellites.
There’s considerable crossover among the cuisines, but in this post I’m highlighting a dish I prepared that’s dear to the hearts of Ukrainians, banush (бануш, aka banosh, банош), a cornmeal porridge, first cousin to Romanian/Polish/Moldavan mamaliga and Italy’s polenta; the Ukrainian style is made with sour cream – make it with water and you’ve got Cousin Mamaliga or Zia Polenta. Most recipes I’ve seen call for cutting the sour cream with water but I use chicken broth instead plus the addition of a little butter for richness and bacon fat for a hint of smokiness.
It’s typically served with a sharp sheep’s milk cheese like bryndza crumbled on top and bits of bacon or salo, sometimes with mushrooms as well. I’ve plated it alongside grilled kovbasa on a bed of caramelized onions with sour cream on the side. Just one example of Ukrainian soul food.
🇺🇦 It’s no coincidence that I’ve chosen a blue plate for this yellow dish. 🇺🇦
Sending prayers for peace to the resolute people of Ukraine.
Mamaliga is also eaten by Jewish people from those regions. My grandmother from Bessarabia made that often. IN Romanian the saxons made a mamaliga lasagna, using local sheep/goat cheese as the layers.
Another great post on this sad day!
Thank you, Paul.