Friday, July 01, 2011

The 1929 Ukrainian cookbook of Olha Senatovych

As mentioned in an earlier post, we’re presenting Nash Holos listeners and blog readers with a translation of the cookbook of one Olha Senatovych of Lviv, Ukraine, dating back to 1929.

It's really more of a journal filled with information and cooking tips that Olha gathered and compiled, perhaps with the intention of passing them on to her descendants. The recipes she included are both familiar and exotic to modern cooks who know all about Ukrainian cuisine.

Olha's original “cookbook” is hand-written, in Galician Ukrainian. (Galicia is a province in western Ukraine.) Her grandson in Lviv has kindly provided us with a digitized version — also in Ukrainian.

It all started out as a translation project for a writer’s group that Natalia Buchok (fellow contributor to Kobzar’s Children) and I belong to. A few of the members who are fluent in Ukrainian had a preliminary look-see and decided that it was definitely something worth translating and sharing with the world.

Natalka was fascinated with the book and , in spite of an already insane work and home schedule, decided to take on the translation.

Meanwhile, it occured to me that such an ongoing project would be perfect for Ukrainian Food Flair. Mindful of her crazy schedule, I nonetheless asked Natalka (nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?) if she would be interested in sharing her translated treasured with Nash Holos listeners.

The "radio bug" bit down hard, and she agreed to host Ukrainian Food Flair on a bi-weekly basis.

Admittedly, it was a huge undertaking, and neither of us really had any idea how Natalia was going to find the time to do both the translation and the radio gig.

Enter another member of our writer’s group to the rescue. 

Mila Komarnisky, a native Ukrainian speaker and first-time published author, is our Angel of Mercy. With her novel, Wretched Land, finally completed and now in print, Mila was ready for another project and offered to help us out.

This frees Natalia up to focus on the radio presentation of the recipes as well as the valuable information and fascinating historical and personal anecdotes in Olha's cookbook.

In addition to the translation, Mila is also creating low-calorie versions of Olha's recipes, much of which rely on larger quantities of ingredients like cream, butter, bacon, and sugar than we’re used to these days. (It was written in the 1920s, after all!)

Many thanks to both Natalka and Mila for undertaking this fascinating project. I’m sure you’ll find our journey of Ukrainian culinary discoveries every bit as enjoyable as we do!

So stay tuned as Natalka presents Olha's recipes and Mila's low-cal adaptations on Ukrainian Food Flair every other week, and posts them here on the Nash Holos blog!

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