Tradition on a Plate – Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper

A few days ago we launched a new series of books dedicated to Ukrainian cuisine, or more precisely, to its fascinating and abundant component: the dishes that are traditional or specific to festive and other significant occasions. The series is called ‘Tradition on a Plate’. Each book presents a collection of recipes as well as cultural and other interesting information dedicated to certain national feast days or family occasions. With Ukrainian Christmas Eve approaching soon (on 6th January), the first book in the series is appropriately dedicated to Christmas Eve Supper, or as Ukrainians call it, Sviata Vecheria (‘Holy Supper’). The book is entitled Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria and is currently available in e-format on the Amazon.com website (click HERE to see a free book preview).

Book cover, “Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria”

Book cover, “Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria”

Sviata Vecheria is one of the most enchanting Ukrainian traditions. It is filled with many rituals and beliefs. One of them is the serving of twelve Lenten dishes on the night. Customarily, two of the twelve dishes, kutia and uzvar, would be served almost universally on every Sviata Vecheria table in Ukraine. Other ten dishes would vary from place to place often, among other things, depending on their geographical position: more fish dishes would be present in villages positioned near rivers or lakes, whereas mushroom, especially, porcini dishes are more popular in forest regions, like in Carpathian Ukraine.

Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria offers just over 50 traditional recipes to choose from when preparing for Sviata Vecheria, including: kutia, uzvar, borshch with vushka, kapusniak, solianka, herring, ryba v tomati, kulesha, varenyky, holubtsi, knedli, pyrizhky, pampushky, kysil, kyselytsia and others. Almost all of the recipes are at least a century old, with some being very popular and others – rediscovered.

As the subheading suggests, the recipes in this edition are rustic and rather simple that were commonly cooked and served in an average village home, rather than in a household of a well-to-do landowner or a city dweller, where often more ‘sophisticated’ dishes were cooked with more plentiful choice of ingredients, including various imported spices. One of the upcoming volumes in the series will be dedicated to these dishes. Notwithstanding either ‘the modest’ choice of products or, in many cases, the uncomplicated cooking methods, the dishes are in no way less delicious than their more extravagant counterparts. The rustic, homey dishes have their special charm and appeal. Cooked with home-grown produce (which would nowadays be referred to as ‘organic’, ‘free range’ etc), properly stored and cooked, they easily excel in taste.

An introduction to each chapter in Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper: Traditional village recipes for Sviata Vecheria presents some interesting insights into the customs and rituals related to the dishes and useful cooking tips. Following in the steps of “Taste of Ukraine” (our first cookbook), this edition also contains some tempting photographs and images of classic Ukrainian pieces of art.

The team who contributed to this edition should be commended for coming up with such a wonderful result; especially, our truly talented artists, Volodymyr Zavhorodniy (graphic design) and Roksolana Panсhyshyn (book cover). Also, our gratitude goes to Lesia Tolstova and Yuliya Lytvynets from the National Art Museum of Ukraine, who supplied us with images of classic works of Ukrainian artists.

The next book in ‘Tradition on a Plate’ series is already under way and will be dedicated to the Ukrainian traditional celebration of Easter.

15 December 2016