Ukrainian borscht is on the UN protection list after the invasion

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Ukraine’s version of borscht – the Eastern European beetroot soup produced in various forms in countries in the region – has been added to a United Nations protection list, accelerated due to the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian borscht was already on the UN’s list of intangible cultural heritage, but since Friday it has been upgraded to the grand list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. According to the UN citation, “The displacement of people and bearers threatens the element, as people are unable not only to cook or grow local vegetables for borscht, but also to gather to practice the element. , which undermines social and cultural well-being”. to be communities.

Ukraine seeks UN cultural status for beloved borscht. A culinary quarrel with Russia could be brewing.

Borscht is cooked in many different forms, from the pure beet barzcz common in Poland, to recipes that include mushrooms, fish, or sweet peppers. Basic ingredients include beets, cabbage, onions, potatoes and carrots. It is also common in Russia and Romania, leading to culinary disputes over which type of borscht is tastier or more authentic.

“Borscht is considered part of the fabric of Ukrainian society, cultural heritage, identity and tradition,” the UN says, while noting that inclusion on its Urgent Safeguarding List “does not does not imply exclusivity or ownership of the heritage concerned”.

Borscht and the best way to cook it have long been the subject of heated disputes between Russians and Ukrainians, long before the invasion in February, with Ukrainian chefs creating a compendium of regional variations. And, like arguments in Middle Eastern countries over hummus, it’s a subject with many partisan defenders but no outright claimants, born from traditions that predate today’s national borders.

“Food, like language, is the first and last cultural bastion,” Marianna Dushar, a Ukrainian anthropologist and food writer, told The Washington Post in 2020. “We grow with it and associate with it. Countries communicate with other countries through food.

Immigrants to the United States from borscht-producing areas also made their own recipe. In an article for Bon Appetit magazine, food writer Claire Saffitz called an Ashkenazi Jewish preparation “the best recipe ever.”

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