What is Ukrainian Food Like?

Need an English speaking guide and driver in Ukraine who is familiar with the local customs?

As a country known to be the breadbasket of Europe, Ukraine has an abundance of good quality foods at reasonable prices. A large portion of food consumed in Ukraine is grown naturally by small farmers and is mostly organic. Because of the natural farming methods used, food in Ukraine has a lot of flavor and a fresh natural taste. In Ukraine, many people prefer to buy food at farmers markets where prices are lower and food quality better compared to western-style supermarkets. Many tourists to Ukraine rediscover the long-forgotten taste of freshly picked strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruit and vegetables grown in open fields and harvested in season.

Restaurants in Ukraine

While consumer goods in Ukraine cost the same or more compared to Western countries, food in Ukraine costs less. A wide variety of restaurants and cafes has sprung up in Ukrainian cities in the recent years. In cities such as Lviv you will find many eating places serving good food. Food can also be bought from many small grocery stores, some of which are open 24 hours. In rural towns and in villages in Ukraine, restaurants are rare but grocery stores are everywhere. Most of the restaurants in Lviv and Kyiv have menus translated in English language.

Traditional Dishes in Ukraine

There are several dishes that you will keep seeing on menus as a tourist traveling in Ukraine:

Pyrohy, also known as varenyky and pierogi, is one of the staples in Western Ukraine. Pyrohy to Ukrainians is what fish and chips are to the British, or baguette to the French. The filling used for pyrohy could use a wide variety of ingredients: potatoes, fried onions,  cottage cheese, buckwheat flavored by fried onions and black pepper, boiled cabbage and sauerkraut. In the summer months the common filling for pyrohy are cherries and blueberries. The plate of pyrohy is served hot with sour cream. This is usually a Sunday family dish because of the time consuming cooking process involved and the lack of time for cooking on weekdays.

Also popular in Western Ukraine are Holubtsi. These are are cabbage rolls with different types of fillings, most commonly rice and meat. Hulubtsi is prepared by wrapping in a slightly boiled cabbage leaf of specially prepared potatoes. Potatoes are mashed and mixed with raw grated potatoes with large quantities of spices and fried onions. Sometimes holubtsi filling consists of potatoes and boiled buckwheat mix, or rice with minced meat, buckwheat and grated carrots. Everything is flavored by black pepper and fried onions.

First courses in Western Ukraine include a variety of Soups with vegetables and cereals. Very popular is the Borsch with red beetroot and sour cream. Borsch in Eastern Ukraine usually contains a lot of cabbage and many other vegetables.

A quick simple meal in Western Ukraine usually means Pliatsky. This is a variety of potato pancakes from grated potatoes, eggs, flour and spices. Pliatsky is served with sour cream.

Ukrainians also eat many dishes prepared with grains. Such dishes are called Kasha. The most popular grain cereal is buckwheat with milk or butter.