The story of borshch

An unexpectedly interesting, really good, long article about bortshch. It’s also about Ukraine and Russia and the Soviet Union, but mostly about borshch. I should try it some time.

4 thoughts on “The story of borshch

  1. In my area of Canada we have Doukhobor borscht (sic). I am told by Russian speakers that “borscht” means “soup”, whatever you put in it. The Doukhobors are vegetarian (but not vegan) so their soup contains butter, cream, and butter. Also, butter. The first ingredient is potatoes. Then, cabbage, carrots, onions. Basic winter storage veggies. You cook the potatoes, mash some of them with butter. Leave the others in chunks. Cook shredded carrots in butter. Cook shredded onions in butter. Combine all ingredients. Add shredded cabbage (second largest ingredient). You can add a single whole beet, but don’t chop it since that will turn your soup a nasty pinkish colour. Add water. Add salt. Cook until ready, then take off heat and add cream. If you have fresh green peppers, then you chop them up and sprinkle onto each bowl of hot borscht. In the winter you chop up dill pickles instead. This is great soup!
    “Eat bread and salt and speak the truth.” (Doukhobor motto)

  2. National Soups

    To my way of thinking, national soups, that is, – soups that become identified as dishes generally eaten by a given nationality or region – have moved from mere physical sustenance to psychic reinforcement. To start with, a national soup will have ingredients that are endemic to the area or region. They are familiar ingredients whose flavors, consistencies, and subtleties. The soups only come as a logical conclusion or extension of this knowledge. Another aspect of the soup will be its suitability to the environment: here in the Philippines it is hot and food that is too rich in proteins will not keep. Food that is salty or sour will. Hence, a national soup of the Philippines is SINIGANG. It is a sour soup that requires a souring agent. In the northern island of luzon, it is tamarind that is commonly used. In the middle islands, a sour fruit called Batuan. It also adapts easily to whatever protein or vegetable sources are avialable. There are fish, pork, beef, and chicken sinigang varieties.

    Getting back to the psychic reinforcement, the eating of the soup grows from mere curiousity to an affirmation of who you are (Filipino) and where you are (Philippines). That need for psychic reinforcement is no trifling matter. I lived away from the Philippines for a few years and there were time when I would have given my eye teeth for a meal of authentic SINIGANG. All this while I was surrounded by a local soup, the Thai national soup, called TOM YAM. Though related, it was still not SINIGANG.

    If I had not had that personal experience, I would today easily dismiss this talk as a lot of tripe. But since I have shared the experience that so many exiles have had of their own country’s soups, I can no longer claim to be blase about so profound a topic: your national soup.

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