eastern european cuisine: 3 posts

Tasting Spring : Green Borscht (Ukrainian Sorrel Soup)

Spring smells like the musky sweetness of wet soil, the green tartness of young maple leaves, the bitterness of apricot blossoms and the mineral sharpness of rain on my lips. But spring also has a likewise exhilarating taste—the delicate sweetness of sugar snap peas, the metallic pungency of ramps, the milky perfume of strawberries and the floral tartness of rhubarb.  Tart and green is the dominant flavor of spring, and when I see the long blades of sorrel at the market stalls, I know that spring is here at last. I can’t wait to pop a leaf in my mouth and taste its mouth puckering, lemony acidity.

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Buckwheat and Mushroom Pilaf Recipe : Toasty, Savory Notes

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As I was enjoying the toasty sandalwood of Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau recently, it reminded me of the burnt, caramelized notes we enjoy in food such as coffee, freshly baked bread, chocolate and pralines. These flavors oscillate between languid sweetness and smoky bitterness, yet all facets add up to an irresistible mélange. In food, as in fragrance, the judicious use of charred notes can convey a savory, mouthwatering sensation. One of my favorite ways to experience this is a simple buckwheat pilaf. Accented with the dark, piney notes of mushrooms and sweet caramelized onions, this traditional Russian dish is very satisfying. In the spring, it takes well to morels and white field mushrooms, while in the winter, it can be made with smoky and savory dried porcini.

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Ukrainian Wheat Berry and Poppyseed Pudding Recipe (Kutya, Kutia)

Wheat and poppyseeds

It is a quiet afternoon on Christmas Eve. I check on the last minute dinner preparations, light up the Christmas tree and take out my old mortar and pestle. Although I know that the food processor will be much faster and easier, there is something special about doing things the old way. As I pound the poppyseeds, the rhythmic movement of the pestle transforms the tiny grey-blue grains into a violet hued mousse. The aroma is nutty at first, then milky and sweet, like fresh marzipan. I want to dip my finger into the creamy paste; it must taste as delicious as it smells.

It takes all of my willpower to resist because on Orthodox Christmas Eve, the Advent fast can only be broken when the first star rises. Instead I continue to work, my body is here in this messy apartment—I still need to clean up before the evening feast—but my mind is with my grandmother on the other side of the ocean who has probably done the same thing earlier today. Kutya—or kutia, kolivo, colivă, koliva, sochivo, as this wheatberry pudding with poppyseeds is known in different parts of Eastern Europe—brings us closer together than any modern means of communication.

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  • Charlotte Barrow in Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Giveaway: What about Coco Chanel? It’s very different from Coco Mademoiselle; lots of spice and sandalwood 🙂 Serge Luten’s Santal de Mysore has lots of spices alongside the sandalwood; very soft… October 16, 2019 at 5:23pm

  • Karina in Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Giveaway: 1. Serge Lutens, Gris Clair (like a cashmere jumper) Parlez moi de parfum, Milky Musc Kenzo, Jungle L’Elephant (strong though, and there is vanilla so if that scares you off… October 16, 2019 at 3:49pm

  • sillage4ever in Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Giveaway: I’ve been wearing the nutty, dried fig leaves scent of Imaginary Authors’ Yesterday Haze and think it’s a terrific autumn perfume that veers away from the usual gourmands. Coco Mademoiselle… October 16, 2019 at 11:06am

  • Armando in Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Giveaway: Hi, Also, you may contact me via email and share my email with Tara. October 16, 2019 at 10:49am

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