Оn Sunday May 22 Ukrainian Food Flair co-host, Natalia Buchok of Oakville, Ontario made her radio debut on Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio!
A writer who speaks fluent Ukrainian, Natalia has embarked on an ambitious journey, taking Nash Holos listeners on a delicious trip down memory lane as she explores a fascinating piece of Ukrainian culinary history.
The roadmap for this trip comes via the Ukrainian to English translation project of a cookbook dating back to 1929. Entitled Універсальна Галицька Кухня (Universal'na Halytskia Kukhnia), it tramslates into English as Galician Kitchen.
We came across this book through Oleh Iwanusiw, a member of an online writing group that Natalia and I belong to.
Oleh has an acquaintance in Lviv, Ivan Lutchuk, who happens to be the grandson of Olha Senatovych, the book's author. Ivan also happens to actually have in his possession the very hand-written cookbook his grandmother compiled!
Written in the beautiful Galician Ukrainian vernacular of that time, it has traditional recipes for everything from fish dishes to tortes, and even instructions on how to keep your kitchen vermin-free!
Having learned about this incredible treasure, our writer's group decided it was just too wonderful not to share. So with Oleh's and Ivan's permission, Natalka is doing the Ukrainian to English translation, and in the process sharing her culinary discoveries with Nash Holos listeners.
Very little is actually known about the author, however. From photos Ivan sent us, we do know Olha was beautiful and fashionable. She obviously came from an upper or upper middle class family, in Lviv, western Ukraine.
She lived for a while in Vienna, and was an artist at a time when women were just being officially admitted into the great art schools of the West, such as the Academy Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.
And, based on her book, she was no doubt an adventurous cook and highly competent homemaker!
While the 1920s were a time of political instability and upheaval in western Ukraine, they were nonetheless a heady time for kitchens. New inventions and innovations in kitchen design swept Europe (particularly Germany and Austria) and soon made their way to North America.
Presumably Olha had a modern kitchen. It was probably painted Venetian green or Pale Organza. She likely had built in wood cabinets that sat flat on the floor instead of on legs, with a work counter, aluminum drawers with oak bins for storing flour (oak repels meal-worms), and a garbage drawer for scraps.
For appliances, she might have had a Kitchen Aid mixer (they were around by then) and a gas burning stove, although probably without a thermostat on the oven (she doesn't give any temperatures in her recipes). Although refrigerators had already been invented, Olha likely was still using an icebox.
The recipes in her cookbook are quite sophisticated. Many clearly reflect the influence of Vienna, the capital of the Austro Hungarian Empire which had ruled western Ukraine prior to the end of WWI. The Austrian nobility routinely brought in French and Italian chefs to cook for their banquets and celebrations. So the luxury and festive style of the dishes prepared by these foreign chefs soon began to influence Ukrainian dishes - modern variations of which are prepared in Ukrainian homes today.
Natalia will be sharing many of those recipes on Ukrainian Food Flair every other Sunday on Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio. So make sure to join her on her exciting culinary journey!