Thursday, 12 April 2018

What borshch means to me

As a comfort dish of many local culinary Slavic peoples, this soup dish is commonly made in a big pot to feed everybody for several days, and is often more delicious the next day.


Many Doukhobor and Mennonite websites talk about borshch (borsht, borshcht) as a popular dish amongst their population.

As I see it, borshch has become a world wide common dish with almost institutional qualities.

Because of their pacifist nonkilling stance, Doukhobor borshch was traditionally vegetarian, with dill, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, beets and butter being its most prominent ingredients. Today, 2018, only a small minority of Doukhobors are vegetarian, although those who make borshch make it without meat.

Most other non-Doukhobor borshch recipes often include meat as part of it although in the pioneering era, less than 10 percent of the population ate meat because it was largely not available and was expensive.

Borshch is utilitarian in that you could include almost any available vegetable that you have around and add meat if that is your preference. It’s cheap, available, communal and healthy. A universal dish! A similar soup was made in Roman times.

During the Soviet Union, borshch was the most common dish enjoyed at home and in restaurants. It was even used by Russian cosmonauts in freeze-dried form.

Borshch is a ritual dish for Orthodox, Greek, Roman Catholic and Jewish peoples in Eastern Europe. For Doukhobors, it is the first food served (without meat) at funerals.

In brief, for Doukhobors, borshch is a universal dish with Slavic heritage and communal roots, and is largely known for its association with hospitality, nonkilling and good health.

Thanks to our Russian ancestors who have for centuries made this delicacy a contribution to world culture, these are outstanding human qualities that society dearly needs today. Enjoy!

Bolshoe spasibo! [A Big thank you!]

1 comment:

  1. Ramesh Chaitoo, Belgium12 April 2018 at 20:50

    Hello Koozma:
    It was very interesting to read about the origins of Borshch. Thanks. But I could eat some now!! And you know that your borshch is legendary and delicious.

    ReplyDelete