Ukraine to recognize borsch as intangible cultural heritage
Every time a Ukrainian family gathers around the table to taste freshly cooked borsch – a world-famous beetroot soup – they will enjoy not only a tasty meal, but also the product of what will soon be recognized as the country’s intangible cultural heritage.
More specifically, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy is set to add “the culture of Ukrainian borsch cooking” to the national list of intangible cultural heritage.
The ministry is expected to approve the decision, since its expert council on intangible cultural heritage recommended the move on Oct. 6.
That’s an important step ahead of Ukraine’s plan to nominate the culture of Ukrainian borsch cooking for the same kind of list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.
UNESCO’s list already includes Ukrainian Petrykivka decorative painting, the tradition of Kosiv painted ceramics and Cossack’s songs of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
Ukrainian restaurateur and chef Yevhen Klopotenko says he initiated the process of recognizing borsch as local cultural heritage.
The idea came to him two years ago, when he found out that Russians abroad call borsch a Russian soup. He then dug into the history of the dish to discover that the first mentions of it come from Ukraine. However, over the course of 1,500 years, borsch has never been recognized as Ukrainian on the official level.
“We just didn’t think it had to be documented,” Klopotenko wrote on Facebook.
So the restaurateur created a non-profit called the Institute of Culture of Ukraine, whose team gathered family borsch recipes from all corners of Ukraine.
Klopotenko says he brought five liters of borsch to the expert council meeting on Oct. 6, where the decision was approved unanimously.
“That’s just the beginning,” Klopotenko said. “Now let the whole world know whose borsch really is.”
Cooked all over the country, the Ukrainian traditional beetroot soup has dozens of recipe versions. The classic one includes such basic ingredients as beetroots, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and meat — either pork or beef.
Kyiv offers a variety of cafes and restaurants serving both classic and modernized borsch.
Apart from borsch, the cultural ministry is set to add four more items to the heritage list: the technology of creating the Klembivska embroidered shirt with a flower, Easter celebration “Lead the Lord” in the Rozkoshivka village in Vinnytsia Oblast, Borshchiv folk embroidery and the creation of the Carpathian lizhnyk, a thick blanket made of sheep’s wool.
As of now, Ukraine’s national list of intangible cultural heritage features 14 activities and traditions.