Ukraine holds borscht ‘marathon’ to promote Unesco bid

Participants cook borscht in Kiev on March 5, 2021, during an event to promote Unesco bid to recognise the traditional beetroot and cabbage dish as part of Ukraine's historical heritage. — AFP pic
Participants cook borscht in Kiev on March 5, 2021, during an event to promote Unesco bid to recognise the traditional beetroot and cabbage dish as part of Ukraine's historical heritage. — AFP pic

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KIEV, Mar 7 — Ukrainian cooks gathered Friday in Kiev to cook borscht ahead of the ex-Soviet country’s bid to cement the dish as part of its cultural heritage, an initiative that irritates Russia.

Ukraine’s culture ministry is due this month to submit an application to the United Nations cultural body Unesco to list borscht — the traditional beetroot and cabbage dish — as an intangible part of the country’s cultural heritage.

The drive has been led by Ukrainian chef Ievgen Klopotenko, who along with the culture ministry gathered 25 Ukrainians from around the country to cook their region’s authentic recipes during a two-hour live broadcast he billed as a “marathon”.

“We have to take what we have, what we love and talk about it a lot, promote it a lot and preserve it as much as possible,” Klopotenko said as the broadcast kicked off.

Ukraine’s National Records Agency said the event had set a record for the biggest simultaneous cooking of borscht.

Russia last year bristled after Ukraine announced its intention to submit its application to Unesco. 

The Russian government even took to Twitter, calling borscht “one of Russia’s most famous and beloved dishes and a symbol of traditional cuisine”.

Tensions between Kiev and Moscow have flared in the decades following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

After a pro-Western popular uprising in Kiev in 2014 followed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in the east, the confrontation has intensified.

One of the cooks during Friday’s event was Lyarene Kozakevich, who represented Crimea and cooked a unique version of the dish that included corn, quince and lavender. 

But the main ingredient of Crimean borscht, Kozakevich said, was “collegiality”.

“That we are together and will be together,” she explained. — AFP

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