I am not an adventurous eater.
If you know me at all, it is probably something you've noticed at some point. It is unlikely that I'll ever give up staples such as French fries or chocolate, or stop eating cereal for supper.
Before I left for the Ukraine, my dear mother would often question me, possibly exasperated at my bad habits. "Jennifer, what on earth are you going to eat when you're there?!" To which I would say, "Whatever they give me," and shrug. The Ukrainian diet was the least of my worries as I prepared.
I once heard someone say that Ukrainian women are born to feed people. And whether or not that is legit, my host баба (grandma) Slava is one excellent example of this myth. From day one, Slava has been offering me food constantly... first thing in the morning: "Jenny! Yiste!" right up until bedtime, when tea is prepared and snacks are laid out. Back in May, my first meal with Slava, Ihor (her son), and Iryna (her daughter in law) was an overwhelming smorgasboard of strange new flavours - борщ (borsch), варенуку (varenyky), and mysterious forms of meat (a combination of pork and beef? I keep telling myself it's just chicken) among several other dishes.
I always know what will be served for breakfast - my morning routine consists of an omelette (I've eaten approximately 42 omelettes here in Ukraine) and a wee cup of coffee (I'm getting an extra large coffee at the first Tim Horton's I see in August! Ukrainians are not big on caffeine). Lunch is typically sandwiches, or Канапкий, made by the Slavster. And dinner, well, dinner is almost always a surprise.It may be any combination of salad (with a healthy coat of vegetable oil? plus salt), veggies (often fresh from the dacha), borsch, a form of potato, and possibly holubtsi and/or varenyky. This is all accompanied by a side dish of sour cream - Сметана!
Even eating chips here has been an edible adventure - I assumed that the blue and green bag with the picture of the octopus on it would be salt and vinegar flavoured, based on the very nautical packaging. Nooooooope. They were calamari chips. Don't think they've made their way to Canada yet, nor have my flavour of the week -- sour cream and cheese. Deeeelicious.
One last yummy anecdote: I was able to sleep in gloriously late this past Saturday. I will not even say what time I awoke, because my parents - especially my dad - would be apalled. All I can say is that it was afternoon. (Side note: I am really good at sleeping.) Anyways, Slava was in the kitchen, pointing out the time of day and giving me a Ukrainian lecture. I know that I was not in trouble because she was laughing. However, to my great disappointment, it turns out it was far too late in the day for an omelette or even some coffee - Slava only makes coffee in the am? Unsure.
Anyways, out comes a heaping bowl of borsch - beets, beets, and moooooooore beets. As well as holubtsi (made of cabbage and other delightful veggies... Mom! I eat cabbage now!) and potatoes and sandwiches to boot. The breakfast of champions. As delicious as this meal was, I don't think I fully enjoyed it because mentally, I just couldn't consider these dishes breakfast-appropriate. Silly, I know. I learned my lesson. I will not be sleeping that late ever again... while under Slava's roof, at least. I value my routine breakfast of omelettes and coffee (precious coffee) far too much.