Here is the story of why historically, Ukrainian men do not like a pumpkin. It's a true story, which Judy found on a fantastic website called Travel West Ukraine. It's a well-known story that can be found in similar versions on a number of sites.
This is a very old tradition dating back to medieval times. When a Ukrainian boy wanted to marry a girl, he did not buy her a ring and he did not ask her, “Will you marry me?” on bended knee in a romantic place somewhere.
No, in Ukraine a different method was used to ask her hand in marriage. The suitor had to find two special people (a relative or friend) and he went with these people to the house of the girl he wanted to marry.
Ukrainians call these two special people Starosty or Svaty. Starosty must be a wise person and preferably with a good sense of humor because they will make a special speech to the parents of the future bride. Usually Starosty were men, but the odd time they would be women.
So, Starosty and the potential fiancé would come to the girl’s parents and gave a special speech. At the end of this speech, they would ask the parents to allow their daughter to be the wife of this young man. But, the parents usually answered, “We need to ask the opinion of our daughter.”
The girl stayed silent, and if she wanted to marry this man, she would tie a ceremonial embroidered towel over the shoulder of each of the Starosty. She would also tiesa nice shawl on the hand of the young man.
But if she doesn't want to marry him, then the Starosty got nothing and the young man received a pumpkin from the girl!
Parents who had very pretty daughters often heard from friends and neighbours: “Oh, you need to grow a big garden of pumpkins!”
The Ukrainian tradition of giving a pumpkin to the loser is almost gone in today’s times. When a modern Ukrainian boy proposes marriage to a girl, he buys her a ring as is done in the rest of the world.
But the saying “to get a pumpkin” is still very popular in Ukraine. This phrase usually means that somebody has said “no” to you in a very important business matter. Also, if Ukrainians say about some man, “He got a pumpkin from his girlfriend” it means the same as it did several centuries ago.
Eating pumpkin is a different story altogether, however! Ukrainian men like eating pumpkin just as much as women do, all the world over.
Here’s a unique recipe that comes courtesy of Ludmilla, one of the ladies who works in the kitchen at Prairie Cottage Perogies. She doesn’t have a name for it, but Judy and I decided to call it Ludmilla’s Pumpkin Platsok.
For this recipe you will need perogy dough of your choice, a pumpkin filling, oil and a frying pan. And of course a rolling pin. :-)
If you don’t have your own perogy dough recipe, here’s Judy's:
3 cups flour
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
Mix together until smooth, form a ball, cover in plastic and let rest for 20 min.
While it’s resting, make the pumpkin filling. In a bowl combine, contents of a 14 ounce can of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) with ¼ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, allspice and, if desired, ginger.
Divide the dough into three. Roll out one third very thin (the thickness of a Canadian dime) in a square shape.
Spread one third of the pumpkin mixture evenly over the dough. Bring each corner over to meet in the middle. Seal the edges by tapping the dough lightly.
Add a bit of oil to a large frying pan or flat grill, about 2 tablespoons. Heat until slightly smoking
Carefully place the dough into the pan. Fry until golden brown, then flip. (You will need to use 2 egg turners or a very large flipper. ) Fry until golden brown, then slide onto a plate. Sprinkle with sugar or dust with icing sugar.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
This is a great way to use up left-over perogy dough. You can also use any kind of fruit or pie filling — use your imagination and create a new family favorite!