I never thought I would be one to read a cookbook from cover to cover, but this is one that is loaded with tidbits of information. If you are just getting to know the Ukrainian culture, and would like to know it better, this cookbook is a great place to start. It took the author Marta Pisetska Farley eight years to put it together, after researching recipes that have been handed down through stories and songs. Apparently a lot of the Ukraine recipes are passed down, where the measurements are, and handful of this, a pinch of that and so forth.
The cookbook follows the Ukraine calendar year listing off traditional holiday customs, with recipes to match. Before each recipe there is a little write up, which is insightful as well as informative.
Reading this book I picked up on some of my Grandmother's quirks. My mother thought its was weird when my grandmother would often pack a picnic and have them eat it in the graveyard. It turns out that the Ukraine people made a day of cleaning up their beloved graves and had a feast right there afterwards. They believe that the spirits of their loved ones are close by and protect the living and for this they make a point of honoring them. Personally, I think it is a beautiful way to keep the ones who've passed away close to our hearts.
Another thing that made me chuckle was my grandmother always offering us food. We would be stuffed, but she wanted us to eat more and more. She would often hold out a bowl to the men and say "you can finish off that little bit of potato." The unfortnate victim would then find themselves being given another two servings (though usually more) of the dish.
Being Canadianize I feel that my hertiage is more of a hodgepodge of cultures that have been watered down to nothing. I did find out (I had believed our family was from Russian) that my Great-Great Grandfather was born in Odessa. I have Scottish on my Dad's side, but I am a result of a watered down culture. We have no real traditions except what we make for ourselves. Finding out about this connection is exciting, more so because I had wanted to adopted from Russia but felt the pull more to the Ukraine. It was after we had already started the process to adopt from the Ukraine that my aunt gave me our family's history. I was already willing to embrace the Ukraine culture when we adopted our child, but now it is more than that. It's me connecting to my own hertiage and that is truly exciting.