I love food. I've never understood people who forget to eat or get no pleasure from it. But I'm a very picky eater and this sometimes presents challenges when traveling. On most weekdays, my diet consists of chicken, rice and vegetables. I love carrots and my refrigerator is usually stocked with several bags of them. This is shocking to some guests, to open the door and see a sea of orange and not much else. I don't like any seafood and most meats, but will never refuse a sweet, cheese or any type of pasta.
During my recent trip to Uki Village in Chicago, I came across this Ukrainian market. So let's go inside and see what I found.
1. Well first let's start with the outside. I remember in Russia there were hand-written and typed signs hanging everywhere - in shops, on the streets and on bulletin boards. Apparently some are very amusing because my fellow travelers were always taking pictures of them and laughing. But most of the time they failed to share the joke with me.
Here's one example from Arbat Street. If I recall, there's lots of dirty stuff written on these notes. I tried to purify the big white sheet and left my own mark by writing I ♥ America. See it there on the bottom right hand side? Perhaps there's a big X over it by now. Maybe some of my Moscow readers can go on a scavenger hunt next time they're on Arbat Street, find the note, and report back to me. :)
2. But here at the Ukrainian market, a more standard sign advertising a seller position. Bars everywhere at this market, strange because it's in a nice neighborhood and surrounding stores are free of this clutter.
3. Upon entering I asked the young girls behind the counter if I could take photos. Their English was very poor and they looked at each other as if they weren't sure how to answer. Then I explained the purpose, to put the photos on a travel blog primarily read by Russians. Mind numbing back and forth discussions and they finally agreed. Something very weird with Russia and some former Soviet Bloc countries - the need to prohibit photos of something as basic as food.
4. Immediately my eyes went to these colorful bottles. I was certain it was Ukrainian pepper vodka. I did shots of this in Ukraine with my friend's babushka (in her late 80s) and loved it. Probably the most memorable night of my trip. So I wrote him and he informed me it's actually vegetable oil. Ahh!! Good thing I didn't buy some and take a shot. :)
5. Here's Lydia, the coolest babushka ever, and my favorite Uki zavkafedroi. The photo was taken during my trip in July 2011. He now lives in the middle of nowhere in Southern France and occasionally writes posts about the beautiful surrounding rural areas. I'll be sure to visit him in the coming months.
6. Ukrainian candies. Not sure if they are chocolates, caramels or something else?
7. Looks like an Easter treat, but I'm told this is some type of cookie. Maybe a spice in the plastic tubs beside the cookies? And again, high security at this market with the closed circuit television warning posted. "NOTICE!" - big brother is watching at all times.
8. I think I drank this beverage in Russia. Similar to American root beer but I believe it has alcohol in it.
9. I hate fish and this is some type of dried fish snack. I'm not sure why there's a Swiss looking girl on the package? I guess blonde hair, big boobs and beer are a golden marketing strategy for the target consumers. I think the guys ate a similar snack at the seedy vodka bar we went to in St. Petersburg. I ate cheese and crackers.
10. Some type of smoked fish. How do you eat this? Just pick it up and eat the whole thing, eyeballs and all?
11. Salted herring.
12. Different juices. I recognize the word "сок" on the packaging. I'm not sure how close the Russian and Ukrainian languages are but I assume there are many similarities.
13. More fish and other interesting foods. The round dish is particularly vibrant with the green and yellow. I think the green is dill but I have no clue what the yellow stuff is. I pointed to it and asked one of the young girls "Что это?" She indicated it was some type of pate. The only thing I would eat here is the potatoes and maybe the egg roll looking things on the left.
14. Now we're talking - Kyiv cake! So tasty, I ate it in Kyiv. A crunchy type of cake.
15. Some type of pumpernickel bread. Combo of Ukrainian and English on the packaging so I'm not sure it's an authentic Ukrainian product.
16. Gopnik soul food! Cute babuska on decorative packaging for sunflower seeds.
17. Delicious cheeses and more sweets.
18. This frozen treat I really liked. Similar to a candy bar I ate in Russia that had a cheesecake type filing covered in chocolate. In the States, we have slices of cheesecake but the filling is not typically found in candy bars or frozen treats. It's a pity because it's delicious.
19. During my trip to Ukraine I ate the national dish varenyky on several occasions but never stuffed with meat. Always the potato/onion kind or the sweet ones stuffed with fruit fillings. I liked these the best.
Anyone see their favorite food? For those who have traveled to America what did you think of our food? It's difficult to say what "American food" is. We have everything here but I think hamburgers, steaks and potatoes are considered traditional American foods by most foreigners.