Twelve Vegan Ukrainian Recipes to Feed the Hungry Spirit
I’ve thought about it for some time and I think my love language is food. Is this an option?
If you cook for me, if you meet me for a meal, if you enjoy what I cook, if we sit at a table together and share thoughts and nourishment together, that is the most surefire way to my heart. The stage was set early on for me as I had the world’s best grandmother (a title she may share with your grandmother/s) and we spent so many hours, though not nearly enough, at her kitchen table, playing cards, watching soap operas, talking, cooking and baking together. Though I have been vegan for nearly 30 years at this point, my muscle memory tells me that it still knows how to separate the yolk from the egg whites by carefully passing them back and forth in two neat little shell halves. Though I don’t eat the same things that I did growing up, the recipes my grandmother made remain deeply embedded and have imprinted on me a love for unpretentious, simple but delicious peasant food. I enjoy trying haute cuisine and molecular gastronomy but to me, nothing beats homey comfort food from around the globe.
For me, the first one was Ukrainian Jewish food and it will probably be what I will crave until the end.
My grandmother was the youngest of six and the only child born in the United States of Ukrainian Jewish parents from Odessa. Somehow the family managed to survive the pogroms and virulent anti-Semitism of their homeland and the time. They were not people of means but they were resourceful and tenacious. In just one move, my great-grandparents, their children and offspring were given much better future prospects. If Fannie and Samuel Harter had left Odessa much later than they did, I have little doubt they would have been killed by homegrown or outside forces. It truly is a miracle they got out when they did. The extended family was not so lucky.
My grandmother, though, knew nothing of that life as the baby of the brood and the only one born here. Dora was light and funny and whip-smart; she spread that joie de vivre everywhere she went. I noticed from an early age how perfect strangers, even seemingly grumpy ones, would go out of their way to smile at her. My…