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Carpathian Cuisine and Lavatories
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Carpathian Cuisine and Lavatories

This podcast is about delicious Carpathian food and strange traditions as viewed by one Brit, Gregory Theiner.

 

Voiced by Gregory Theiner

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Carpathian Cuisine and Lavatories

I'm a foreigner in Ukraine, but have found my time here both enjoyable and enlightening. Ukrainians are some of the most welcoming people I've ever come across, and this home away from home has been made all the more easier with your amazing grub! While some of the food I adore here has Georgian or other roots and influences, the cuisine I've eaten here is Ukrainian made and therefore in my eyes Ukrainian.

So, food, a requirement, but a thoroughly enjoyable necessity!

English food has a bland and negative reputation, but in my opinion it's quite similar to Ukrainian yum yum. I mean that as a great compliment as I also love English tucker! The food here is stodgy, filling but tasty. Meat and veg, meat and veg.... just like England. The main difference, I think, is less spice, but more cream and, my favourite, more sour cream! I am most definitely a smetana-aholic and I'm not ashamed to say it! Whether it's in your beetroot and health packed borsch or smeared on your scrumptious potato pancakes, it is most definitely one of my many vices. I've concocted umpteen sour cream dishes and frankly, anything with it in just can't go too far wrong for me.

Enough of sour cream, for the time being anyway. A couple of weeks ago I found myself in the beautiful Carpathian mountains. Food is paramount to me, and I quickly looked everywhere for new tastes and experiences. I can't remember the name of this particular dish, but it was simply amazing. No doubt it'll give me a love handle or two, but it's worth it. The dish in question looked like mashed potato to me, but had a yellowish tinge. I think it was made from corn and on top was a generous sprinkling of brindza cheese. When my eyes first met this messy looking pile of goodness, my initial reaction was 'oh dear'. This rapidly changed to one of joy after gobbling down the first mouthful. 'Died and gone to heaven' sums up my first taste of this local delicacy. When I return to England, I'll definitely be taking that recipe with me!

I was staying in quite a rural place and was kindly gifted a gargantuan jar of homemade adzhika. As above, I know this has Georgian roots, but this was made by the fair hand of a Ukrainian. I would describe adzhika as 'devilish red paradise in a jar'. The stuff is simply amazing! Slightly spicy, slightly oily and just ruddy bloody scrummy! It's a condiment come relish and we just don't have this stuff back home....yet! This jar lasted me all of a week and I plan on traveling back again just for more of the stuff.

Thus far we have a yellowy mush covered in cheese, a reddish spicy homemade relish, and here comes the good stuff....meeeeeat! I have well and truly fallen in love with shashlik and a good hearty borsch followed by this kebab like main course is my idea of perfection. The thought of washing this all down with a bily Lev makes me salivate!!

Now, lets talk about solianka....the first time I tried it I was puzzled to say the least. Who's thrown part of a lemon and a solitary olive into my soup? I discovered afterwards that this is the norm, and after gladly lapping it up, I ordered a second bowl! Yum yum!

These are but a few of the dishes I've come across, but it would take me hundreds of pages to cram everything in....

Now, it may seem rather strange to talk about toilets right after 'food talk', but the Carpathians also gave me my first experience of Ukrainian toilets. I think it is only fair to mention these atrocities in the same article; in part because the memories are attached to one another, and I suppose you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Upon entering the toilet I felt content, warm and happy. I was blissfully unaware what the Carpathians had in store for me. As I opened the door my smile turned from one of joy to that of bewilderment. What am I meant to do with that?

This horseshoe-like hole in the ground was both baffling and horrendous. What do I do? Should I ask? Has someone moved the real toilet? I won't go into much further detail, but any toilet that is physically taxing equals a bad toilet in my eyes.

I actually thought I'd seen it all, but only a few days later I discovered a normal toilet, but next to this normal toilet sat another normal toilet. The mind boggles... do I stare at another man when doing this very private thing? Do we shake hands? I've no idea to this day. I locked the door and had both toilets to myself.

It may seem strange to mention these two subjects in the same breath, but both experiences were new to me and from the same place. I hope to discover more new food and ideally better lavatories.