Yesterday, on the first day of October, I share an introduction to the month in terms of cooking from the 1930’s book The National Mark Calendar of Cooking. The authors were Ambrose Heath and Dorothy Daisy Cottington-Taylor; I don’t know if they wrote the whole book collaboratively or if one (probably Mrs. C.-T.) produced the recipes, and the other (probably Mr. H.) wrote the introductions and other remarks.
Ambrose Heath was born Francis Gerald Miller and was a journalist and cookery writer, who probably thought being Frank Miller was a bit ordinary, and so changed his name! His father was also Francis, his mother was Rose… his brother was Wilfred… his sister was Margaret and his grandfather had been the British Consul in St Vincent Cope West Ireland . By the age of twenty Francis was already a journalist… I don’t know when he changed his name though. Ambrose seems a bit of a character so I think that he must have written the monthly introductions…
Look at this:
Ducks and geese and chickens make fine fare, and the day of the grilled steak and chop has arrived. The gurgling stew which helped so much in the summertime is needed now in earnest, and cold feet require hot soup to enliven them!
Isn’t it great?! ‘The day of the grilled steak and chop…’, ‘the gurgling stew… ‘, ‘cold feet require hot soup to enliven them!’
So here is something for your cold feet… Nothing could be better if you are chilly than borscht! Here are sixteen interesting facts about the famous Ukrainian beetroot soup:
In Ukraine, borscht has always been the symbol of a strong united family: all the ingredients come together melding and blending until they become one delicious flavoursome thing!
- Traditionally borscht was made for a wake, to send the dear departed to heaven!
- There are over 70 actual recipes for borscht – in actual fact there must a million more, as I am sure every family has their own traditional one. The most extravagant one is “Borscht Kiev”. The stock is made from beef, lamb and pork, and bread kvass (rye bread beer) is added
- In the region of Chernigov region, borscht is made with what is described as mushroom “ears” … which I think maybe mushroom filled pasta which look like little ears! (please tell me if I am wrong!)
- In the region of Zhytomyr there are two sorts of borscht one which I think is made with dry (or maybe stale) bread and mushrooms, the other with fruit.
- Funnily enough, there is one region which has no traditional borscht – Transcarpathia.
- The Galicians used to make a brilliantly red soup, just using roast beetroot, and with extra colour from cherry juice.
- Jewish Ukrainians used chicken stock with added sweetness (sugar or honey I guess!)
- There is a Moscow style borscht made with bouillon of beef and smoked meat, and then served with slices of sausage.
- The classic Ukrainian borscht has fresh pork fat, studded with cloves of garlic, salt and greens added once the pot has been taken off the heat, and then left to infuse,
- In the olden days, to add a pleasing sourness to the soup, sour milk, cabbage, berries or unripe apples were added. These days, tomatoes are more likely to give acidity – a change dating from the end of the nineteenth beginning of the twentieth century when tomatoes were imported from the USA
- In the UK we might use the price of a loaf of bread/pint of milk/pint of beer as a comparative price index; in Ukraine it is the borscht index – how much it costs to make the traditional soup!
- Famous borscht fans include Nikolai Gogol, Empress Catherine II and Anna Pavlova (although she is better known in the west for the meringue than the beetroot soup!)
- Borschiv in the Ternopil region has a soup festival every autumn! Sadly you have missed it this year, it was held on September 6th!
- ‘The borscht belt’ covers the areas where borscht is traditionally cooked – from south-eastern Poland through Ukraine, to Belarus and to the Russian regions around the Volga and the Dnieper.
- The Borshchovoe Range of mountains is in Transbaikalia… sadly it is named after the village of Borshchivka which is near the north-western foot of the range, not the soup.