I’ve always maintained that Ukrainians have a fairly broad notion as to what constitutes food, but today’s experience trumps this sentiment beyond further doubt. I say this with a sense of humour; few Ukrainians have dared try our outlandish (to them) “peanut butter,” and even fewer have enjoyed it. As crazy as they may seem to us, we seem just as crazy to them, what with our drinking cold water, mixing cola with vodka, and natural aversion to the random animal parts that sit in large jars in the refrigerators of this country – jars that are passed inches in front of our eyes and gag reflexes with the question, “You want?”
Today my host father offered me a generous slice of the raw onion he was eating. At first I declined, but then I remembered that I should at least try everything, so I said, “Well, I guess I’m not going to kiss any girls today,” and munched on a piece. It wasn’t bad. (It probably helped that I couldn’t taste much of anything due to my dwindling flu.) Strong, though! I guess you could get in the habit of munching on them, but for the sake of my social welfare I think I’ll abstain.
I finished up my soup and rice-n’-meat and was ready to leave the table, but not before I saw my host father settle in for his after-dinner snack. In front of him was an enormous jar filled with pickled pepper slices. Beside him was his raw onion. On a fork, and quickly in his mouth, was a frothy white chunk of salo (pig fat).
So, boys, if you want to catch a Ukrainian girl, prepare a repast of pepper slices, raw onion (peeled and washed, of course) and pig fat… be sure to throw in some brown bread and fish paste – oh, and lots of mushrooms. Your Ukrainian girl will love you forever. Bring Listerine.