Salo—cured pork fat—is considered to be the quintessential national dish in Ukraine. This article is an ethnographic exploration of how salo has become a contested space where wider anxieties over the industrialization of food and Ukrainian identity are played out. Russian jokes about Ukrainians and their love for salo highlight the complex relationship between the countries. A certain shrug with which many Ukrainians respond when asked about their “national” dish articulates how ambiguous they see their place in the world: not wanting to be labeled as folksy and peasant-like at the periphery of Europe, but still seeing salo as a marker of the good life that could unite the contending parts of the country. The Museum of Salo employs salo to reimagine Ukrainian identity as cosmopolitan, ironic, and “European.”
Salo, the Ukrainian Pork Fat: Shrugs, Jokelore, and the “Six-Fingered”
Katrina Kollegaeva was born in Tallinn, Estonia, to a Russian father from Crimea and a Ukrainian mother, but came of age in London. Katrina is a freelance food writer, with a degree in the Anthropology of Food from SOAS (University of London). She works for the largest certifier of organic food in the UK and co-founded the pop-up dining experience Russian Revels with an aim to explore her roots (and all things fat related).
Katrina Kollegaeva; Salo, the Ukrainian Pork Fat: Shrugs, Jokelore, and the “Six-Fingered”. Gastronomica 1 November 2017; 17 (4): 102–110. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.4.102
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