No food in the Ukraine
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jul 21 20:50:07 UTC 2002
Greetings again from Odessa. I have an eight-hour ride to Yalta tomorrow (Monday)...There's not much to see in Odessa besides the steps and the opera house.
NO FOOD IN THE UKRAINE
Still no English-language Ukrainian cookbook available for sale anywhere. Nothing is easy.
There are three people on this tour--me and a couple. Today in Odessa I had two tour guides--the 20-year-old "no slang in the Ukraine" student and a local tour guide (a woman who has lived here a long time). Despite this, I couldn't get any help getting anything done.
For example, the student knows that I like to look at an English language menu. We're at a restaurant. I told him again. I told the other guide. I told the student again. Outside the restaurant:
"Did you ask for an English language menu for me?"
Pause. There's no other answer.
"WELL, WHERE WAS IT?"
"They wouldn't give it to you."
Pause. Like pulling teeth with this guide. "Why wouldn't they give it to me?"
"They don't want you to copy from the menu," was his answer.
"You just ask for a menu! And they give it to you!"
That scene was pretty bad, but not worse than when we went to the Odessa library. The kid said that I needed to show them my passport. My passport was taken by the hotel--as he knew! The director was off on Sunday; did I have an appointment with the director? No, I didn't speak with the Ukrainian library director! I've never been here before! There are two native Ukrainians here! You go in, you check to see the oldest cookbooks they have in the card catalog, and you walk back out and tell me!
Does that happen? Of course not! I get the phone number of the Odessa library director. I can call him myself.
Odessa began in the 1790s. It was made a duty-free port. Catherine wanted it populated quickly, and they took everybody from all over. Jews came there quite early; a hospital was established in 1806. By the 1910s, there were 65 synagogues. My local tour guide said that Odessa might have been one-third Jewish. Over 65,000 Jews from Odessa were killed by the Nazis.
I walked into the local synagogue. No one spoke English very well. I asked an easy question--any English-language books on the history of Jewish life in Odessa or the Ukraine?
My tour guide said there's a book called ODESSA DAYS in Ukrainian, but I can't locate that, either.
So much for tracing "bagels" in this place.
UKRAINIAN FOOD & COOKBOOKS
The cookbook problem: the earliest Ukrainian cookbook in ANY language in the LOC or the NYPL is from 1951. The popular TRADITIONAL UKRAINIAN COOKERY (1957) by Surella Stechichin is widely available, but surely there's something before 1950, before 1900, before 1850? In the Ukraine?
Ukrainian food influenced America not only in New York City, but also northwestern North Dakota. The MERCER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY COOKBOOK (Google that) has a variety of Ukrainian foods. There's a pocket of Odessa immigrants in North Dakota!
The best web site I could find is:
I checked the NYPL catalog. If I'm not more successful on my return to Kiev on Thursday, I fly home on Friday I'll try to record and antedate Ukraine food with the following NYPL books on Saturday:
Edward Morton, TRAVELS IN RUSSIA, AND A RESIDENCE AT ST. PETERSBURG AND ODESSA IN THE YEARS 1827-1829 (1830)
Karl Koch, DIE KRIM UND ODESSA (1854)
Joachim Tarnopol, NOTICES HISTORIQUES ET CARACTISTIQUES SUR LES ISRAELITES D'ODESSA (1855)
Steven Zilperstein, THE JEWS OF ODESSA: A CULTURAL HISTORY 1794-1881
ODESSA PROVERB: The local woman guide said that it's an Odessa proverb not to confuse Bibel with Babel and Gogol with Gugul. (Sorry for spelling errors here.)
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