In the Ukraine, salo is lard or cured pork fat, a product widely considered as the quintessential Ukrainian product. Salo has played an important gastronomical, symbolic, and political role on the territory of Ukraine for centuries, having acquired the role of a national product. This article explores salo's roots and its cultural and social meaning in contemporary Ukraine. The country's complicated geographical and political position between Russia and the European Union is a background, as well as the associated (perceived or otherwise) tensions between the Western and Eastern parts of Ukraine. The author traveled through the country during the summer of 2011 to carry out a short piece of fieldwork and visit several small-scale producers of salo (some were part of Slow Food or organic movements) in the Carpathian Mountains and near Kiev. The curator of the museum of salo in Lviv, an art-gallery that uses salo as innovative material and provocative concept, was interviewed. Salo appears to play a unifying role between different generations and parts of the country otherwise often perceived in opposition. The production and consumption of salo, more than most other foods, is a playground where wider concerns over industrialization of food, longing for lost past, Ukrainian identity and belonging (or lack of) to EU are voiced.
Eating Ukraine and Its Lard(er)
katrina kollegaeva was born in Soviet Estonia to a Russian father and Ukrainian mother. She writes a blog, GastronomicalMe.com, about Russian-Soviet food, obscure ingredients, sensuality, and the nostalgia food brings. She also runs Russian Revels, an underground restaurant that combines lighter, sexier versions of Russian food with stories and theatricality. Kollegaeva is finishing an ma in the Anthropology of Food at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. She lives in London with her English husband, who now loves buckwheat kasha.
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katrina kollegaeva; Eating Ukraine and Its Lard(er). Gastronomica 1 August 2012; 12 (3): 52–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/GFC.2012.12.3.52
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