As a foreigner in a new land, you have endless opportunities to experience new things. But one that you’ll never forget is dinnertime.

Perhaps the greatest culinary delight of this country is the coffee that is offered at all times of the day.

Here in Ukraine, you get to indulge in the best and most delicious cuisine in the country – the homemade kind. Here is a little advice on how to be the best guest you can be (which is actually code for eating the food).

There has to be a catch, right? Wrong. Unless you count the elastic pants you’ll most definitely need to pull out for the occasion.

Start slow

I know that bowl of borscht is staring you down, but take a deep breath and pace yourself. You’ve got a ways to go, and if you want to make it to your third round of dessert (a.k.a heaven), don’t inhale your first four courses.

Bread plays many important roles in a Ukrainian meal, whether it’s with soup at dinner or butter and cheese at breakfast.

Ukrainian meals aren’t just a quick drive-thru, eat-in-your-car dinner. Here, it’s a time of eating, chatting and relaxing all in equal amount. Everyone sits around for coffee or tea afterwards, conveniently leaving a time to digest and regain your breath before you have to leave.

Learn the technique

I’ve noticed that there is a certain method for effectively transporting borscht (beet soup) from the bowl to the mouth. Here are a few tips:

These spoons legitimately cut eating time in half.

1. Posture – Similar to ‘taco neck,’ the borscht posture requires a hunched over stance, allowing the mouth to be as close to the bowl as possible. Women have found a prettier, more feminine version of this, but I can only seem to imitate the men – elbows on the table in full concentration.

2. Spoon – This native Ukrainian soup is usually served with a large spoon, which of course, I am tempted to fill to the brim. This is not always wise because splashing and spilling will inevitably occur. Rather, try filling a comfortable mouthful, able to be ingested with minimal slurping.

3. Accessories – Sour cream goes with borscht like macaroni noodles go with chili (Oh wait, must be an Indiana thing). Always take at least one spoonful and mix it into the broth for a nice creamy flavor. Bread is almost always served at mealtime and with borscht, it takes on an interesting role. Instead of dipping and soaking like I initially did (Silly American), try taking a bite of bread after a spoonful of soup. The same effect occurs, just without looking at gross, soggy bread as it drips all the way to your mouth.

If you can master the art of the national food, you’re one step closer to becoming a true Ukrainian. After that, drink some kefir (fermented milk) and you’re good to go.

Take a little of everything

Ukrainian diets consist largely of what is in season. Luckily the summer means delicious fruits and vegetables!

And when I say ‘little’ I really do mean it. I’ve heard it said time and time again, “I won’t believe that you like it unless you take more.” Make sure you’ve left room for seconds so as to be the best guest you can be.

Nothing will make your host happier than to see you enjoy their food, so even when you think you can’t fit another bite, suck it up and do it anyway.

And last but not least…

45-degree angle

Try to get the best seat in the house – one that reclines.

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Now that you’ve got all the advice you need on how to be a guest in a Ukrainian home, it’s time to take it a step further. Try being a Ukrainian host for your own guests and let’s bring some pride back to the American dinner party.

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About the Author: Lauren Schneider was a summer intern with World Next Door in 2010. She is a Journalism/Mass Communications major at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. Lauren loves writing and photography and could eat Chick-fil-A every day for the rest of her life.

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Comments

  1. Curtis Honeycutt said... 

    Reply

    July 8th, 2010 at 9:14 am  

    Barry, you’re such a taco-necker.

  2. Ellen Jackson said... 

    Reply

    July 8th, 2010 at 10:55 am  

    beautifully said, Barry

  3. Ellen Jackson said... 

    Reply

    July 8th, 2010 at 10:57 am  

    Oh – have you dined with Yulia Yakovleva-Clark’s mama yet? If necessary, invite yourself over!

  4. Ken Ney said... 

    Reply

    July 10th, 2010 at 2:28 pm  

    Don’t forget to sit as far away from the server and kitchen as possible and don’t clean your plate-they will only give you more food. Remember also there are at least 2 waves of dessert.

  5. Barry Rodriguez said... 

    Reply

    July 11th, 2010 at 6:57 am  

    Oops! Sorry everyone! This article is by Lauren, not by me!!! This is the problem with trying to write articles for a website when spending weeks at a time with no access to the internet.

    Sorry Lauren. :) Nice article!

  6. Stephanie said... 

    Reply

    August 8th, 2010 at 2:33 pm  

    So…did you try the salo?

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