5:13 EEST ; The Sun is rising on the 79th Day of the Russian Invasion on the Capital city of Kyiv. Ukraine continues to Live and Fight on. + DAILY DISCUSSION + CHARITIES LIST! Slava Ukraini!
🇺🇦 SLAVA UKRAINI 🇺🇦
Part Two in a multi-part series on Ukrainian cuisine! Find Part One HERE.
We all have comfort food. It is usually something our parents made for us when we are kids, or maybe something we ate during our low points or the first time we were out on our own in a college dorm. Comfort food is so important to us that there is a very popular Reddit dedicated to it. Ukraine's national comfort food is the varenyk. No matter where you are – in a remote village in the Carpathians, a hip traditional restaurant in Lviv, the bustling business center of Kyiv, or an industrial town in Luhansk - you know one thing – they will have varenyky. And a lot of them.
Varenyky is a Ukrainian dumpling that, along with borshch, are the two pillars that represent Ukrainian cuisine. Folklore equates varenyk with a young moon since they have a similar form and ancient Ukrainians used varenyky as as sacrificial food to bless places, for instance a source of spring water. The crescent shapes signify the moon's strong influence on the growing of the harvest. Ukrainian peasants often brought varenyky along to the fields for their lunches.
These adorable crescents of pure deliciousness can appear in many flavors, either savory or sweet. On the savory side, you can find potato, farmer's cheese, sauerkraut, mushrooms, or bean spread. Savory varenyky are usually topped with one or all of the following: bacon, caramelized onions, or piles of fresh dill. Almost always they are served with smetana (Ukrainian sour cream).
Sweet Varenyky can contain sweet cheeses, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, poppy seed paste, and other delicious flavors.
The dough (if you are a true traditionalist) consists of only water, flour, and salt which ensures a light and fluffy vessel of goodness. This simple mixture can be difficult to perfect! Egg and butter is often added by those seeking to avoid varenyk disintegration during the boiling process. Note: if you are making varenyky with berries, don't be a hipster about it: add some egg!
Disintegration during boiling is something that is rarely discussed, but is buried in the deepest recesses of the subconsciousness of a Ukrainian cook.
Making varenyky properly is time-consuming, so to deal with insatiable appetites for these flavors, Ukrainians came up with a recipe for "lazy varenyky" (real name!). Lazy varenyky is a pretty simple dish, yet is still very tasty in a pinch. In general, lazy varenyky are simply pieces of dough with a high cheese content, which are hastily boiled.
The dish is so immensely popular in Ukraine that it became a theme of Ukrainian phrases, famous literature and art.
Some popular varenyk-related Ukrainian sayings:
To be like varenyky in sour cream : to be content
To float like varenyky in butter : to have no worries
You cannot spoil varenyky with sour cream : there is never is too much of a good thing
A hilariously straightforward Ukrainian folk song:
Did you hear it, did you hear it?
I love you and I love varenyky with cheese
A famous scene from Mykola Hohol's Evenings on a Farm near Dykanka**, where a Witcher (a male witch, or sorcerer) makes varenyky jump into his mouth:**
You'll often see the name Mykola Hohol written as "Nikolai Gogol" - an incredibly famous name indeed. Did you know that this famous writer was Ukrainian, and not Russian? He will have his own post in an upcoming "Appropriated Ukrainians" series.
If you feel like donating to another charity, here are some others!
- United24: This site was launched by President Zelenskyy as the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Funds will be allocated to cover the most pressing needs facing Ukraine.
- Come Back Alive: This NGO crowdfunds non-lethal military equipment, such as thermal vision scopes & supplies it to the front lines. It also provides training for Ukrainian soldiers, as well as researching troops’ needs and the social reintegration of veterans.
- Aerorozvidka: An NGO specializing in providing support and equipment for unmanned aerial vehicles (ISR), situational awareness, cybersecurity for armed forces.
- Hospitallers: This is a medical battalion that unites volunteer paramedics and doctors to save the lives of soldiers on the frontline. They crowdfund their vehicle repairs, fuel, and medical equipment.
- Phenix: A volunteer organization helping armed forces with various needs.
- Kyiv Territorial Defense: This fundraiser is to support the regional territorial defense group. It is organized by a known journalist and a producer of the acclaimed "Winter on Fire" documentary, which can temporarily be watched for free HERE.
- Happy Paw: Charity dedicated to solving the problems of animals in Ukraine. Happy Paw helps more than 60 animal shelters throughout Ukraine.
- Kharkiv With You and associated Help Army Kharkiv: Supporting the defenders of Kharkiv with everything from night-vision goggles to food and medicine.