For most people, food is more than just fuel for the body. It can carry memories, elicit emotions and transport you to another time and place. It can nourish your heart and soul. Food can also help you connect to your family’s traditions and heritage.
As Russia continues attacking Ukraine, some people with Ukrainian backgrounds are sharing special family recipes online as a way to preserve those connections.
“Now that Ukraine is at war with Russia and facing an uncertain future, it’s even more important to preserve our cultural heritage,” Anna Sakawsky, a fourth-generation Ukrainian Canadian, told Yahoo Life. “Hearing stories of family friends hiding in bomb shelters and fleeing the country has been difficult for me, but has been especially difficult for my mom who worries she may never be able to return to Ukraine or see her friends again.”
Although her great-grandmother, whom she called Baba Sophie, passed away when Sakawsky was just 4 years old, the recipes she left behind were treasured by the family.
Sakawsky posted her baba’s recipe for perogies on her blog.
“And although I’m 4th generation Ukrainian Canadian and have never actually lived in the [sic] Ukraine (although I have traveled there), it’s still a big part of my identity,” Sakawsky wrote in the blog post.
Many others have posted similar things online, honoring their heritage and sharing special memories across social media platforms. For instance, TikTok user @momsrecipebox, whose profile states that she is connecting to her ancestors “by making every single dish in my mom’s recipe box,” took to the video-sharing platform to post a recipe for jellied pig’s feet.
“A lot of you might think that this dish or gross or weird, and that’s fine,” she explained before providing the instructions. “It’s not for everybody. But I am Ukrainian on my dad’s side, and this dish is an important part of our culture. We used to eat it every Christmas Eve.”
Day 119: Jellied Pig’s Feet, a traditional Ukrainian dish #jelliedpigsfeet #headcheese #ukrainian #ukrainianfood #freeukraine #🇺🇦 #traditional #ukrainianculture #pigsfeet #christmaseve #christmasdinner #aspic #jelliedmeat #fyp #foryou #fy #fypシ #fypage
On a Facebook page called New Faces of Democracy, an unnamed poster shared their mother’s handwritten recipe for borscht, along with some personal insight.
“My great grandfather left what is now L’viv, Ukraine for New York in 1892 to escape the pogroms and find a better life. If he had stayed, there’s a good chance he and his family would have died 50 years later in a concentration camp. Now the Jewish leader of Ukraine is being hailed by the world as a hero. I never guessed that my Ukrainian roots would feel so relevant,” the poster wrote. “In my great grandfather’s honor and in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, here is my mother’s very 1960s borscht recipe.”
Meanwhile, TikTok user @tina_ree, a mom from Winnipeg, shared her baba’s pierogi recipe.
“It’s only four ingredients, really easy,” she said of the dough portion of the recipe. “Flour, oil, water, salt.”
On Facebook, Annie Grice posted an image showing her recipe for deruny, Ukrainian potato pancakes.
“A wonderful recipe for ‘Deruny’ from a week ago when life was simpler.. and safer,” she wrote.
As we near Easter, the celebratory recipes of the season carry even more poignance than years past. Sarah Mock, a chef and blogger, shared a link to her family’s Easter bread recipe.
“Part of my heritage is Ukrainian,” she tweeted. “Ukrainian Easter bread is something we make each year. This year it will hold more significance.”
🇺🇦 UKRAINIAN EASTER BREAD RECIPE 🇺🇦
Part of my heritage is Ukrainian. Ukrainian Easter bread is something we make each year. This year it will hold more significance. #StandingWithUkraine
— Savoring The Good® (@SarahBMock) March 1, 2022
Like many other people with family ties to Ukraine, preparing traditional family recipes is more critical now than ever for Mock.
“I know the traditions are important and run deep,” Mock told Yahoo Life. “With hundreds of thousands on the move, households disrupted and lives shattered, I know many will not be cooking their traditional Easter recipes. I will cook and carry on these recipes because so many don’t have the opportunity this year.”