Monday, 28 May 2012

Ukrainian Food - Buckwheat, Yum!

Ukrainians in Calgary adore eating rice filled cabbage rolls and potato pyrogies, but little did you know that, though they are so widely considered a staple among the traditional Ukrainian foods, they are in fact historically a delicacy.  Did you ever consider why the rice cabbage rolls are typically made very small in Western Ukrainian culinary tradition?  I always wondered about those little pinky sized holubtsi - but I loved the tiny ones the best.

Did you ever consider that rice doesn't grow in Ukraine?  Where would one get rice on the Ukrainian steppe land, especially way back in history?  Well, surely you can see that rice was an imported food product from the orient.  So,......what did Ukrainians put into their cabbage rolls before they imported rice? 

Then there is the question of pyrogies.  You know, the meal we all crave, potato pyrogies, that are so widely loved on the Canadian prairies.   Again, why are they so small, so delicately made? 

So, do you know that potatoes are also an imported crop - originally from South America? Way back after Columbus, some potatoes ended up in Ireland, then across Europe, and became a staple part of the diet in Ukraine too. 

So, rice and potatoes?  What did Ukrainians use before then?  One thing for certain, buckwheat!!

I adore buckwheat, whether boiled, baked, ground into flour for crepes, in cabbage rolls,.... buckwheat is such a perfect food.  While many people think it is a cereal grain, it is actually related to rhubarb and sorrel. It is a suitable grain substitute for people who have gluten issues, better for people who have blood sugar and isulin issues, the insoluble fiber helps protect you from gallstones, and buckwheat contains so many trace minerals that it is better for anemia too.  It is a wonder food, at least in my eyes. 

Much loved all over the Slavic world, there is even a song about it - Dance my Buckwheat Pancakes, which says hop! my little hrechaniki, quick, stay white, not like the ones that ended up staying on the stove!! Seems like the delicate buckwheat pancakes require a quick flip!  

So where do you get buckwheat in Calgary?  You can buy the regular stuff from almost any market, but the "good stuff" is something you get from a Ukrainian store, eh!  Try getting to Ukrainian Gifts Europa Express at 202-403 9 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 0V9 or call
(403) 277-2180 .
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