«Political Cuisine» of Ukrainian Identity: Gastronomic Tradition as a Factor in the Formation of the Nation in the Second Half of the 19th – the Beginning of the 20th Century

Keywords: traditional cuisine, national identity, formation of the nation, national symbol, ethnic policy


The paper unveils the role and significance of national traditional dishes as one of the symbols of Ukrainian national identity in the context of ethnopolitical processes of the second half of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century. Among the Ukrainian national dishes and beverages, which were firmly treated as traditionally Ukrainian by the representatives of the Ukrainian nation and among the foreign ethnic groups were borscht, salo, and horilka. A good example of the political situation depicting, worldviews and national cuisine is the Menu of 1882 to commemorate the memory of Taras Shevchenko by the Ukrainian community of St. Petersburg.

Contemporaries repeatedly referred to «culinary terminology» describing the political life of Ukrainian people. The dishes of traditional cuisine very clearly defined national-cultural influence and were a significant demarcating factor of national-political borders.

Foodstuffs, packaging paper or wrappers could act as a national symbol and a means of propaganda, making the authorities represented by the General Department of Press to introduce prohibitions for political reasons on the certain images on the labels of sweets, tobacco, and the like.

Certain public catering establishments became not only places for taking a variety of dishes and drinks, but at the same time the meeting points for representatives of a particular national community, where it was possible to communicate in a circle of like-minded people, read the latest press and discuss current news. For example, members of «the Ukrainian Community in Krakow» enjoyed meeting at the Kiiak Coffee Shop in the Market.

For conspiracy, the meetings of political and public figures were often held at the table of one of the society members, and sometimes the occasional field trips – «picnics» in the open took place. In particular, the Kyiv community practiced so-called «porridge at the Dnipro».

In general, it can be stated that food took a prominent part in the system of signs and symbols of the Ukrainian people during the period of modern nation formation and was one of the markers of national identity.


Artiukh, L.F. (1977). Ukrainska narodna kulinariia [Ukrainian people’s cookery]. Kyiv: Naukova dumka [in Ukrainian].

Ashley, B., Hollows, J., Jones, S. & Taylor, B. (2004). Food and cultural studies. New York: Routledge [in English].

Davydiuk, M. (2006). Tradytsiine kharchuvannia volynian [Volynian traditional nutrition]. Narodna tvorchist ta etnohrafiia, 1, 38-50 [in Ukrainian].

Davydiuk, M. (2006). Tradytsiine kharchuvannia volynian [Volynian traditional nutrition]. Narodna tvorchist ta etnohrafiia, 2, 61-70 [in Ukrainian].

Ekelchik, C. (2006). Chelovecheskoe telo i natsionalnaia mifologiia nekotorye motivy ukrainskogo natsionalnogo vozrozhdeniia ХІХ veka [The Body and National Myth: Motifs from the Ukrainian National Revival in the Nineteenth Century]. Ab Imperio, 3, 23-54 [in Russian].

Hannytskyi, S. (2007). Vasyl Symyrenko – tekhnoloh, promyslovets i metsenat [Vasyl Symyrenko – technologist, industrialist and philanthropist]. Skarbnytsia ukrainskoi kultury, 8, 43-45 [Ukrainian].

Hontar, T.A. (1979). Narodne kharchuvannia ukraintsiv Karpat [People’s food of Carpathian Ukrainians]. Kyiv: Naukova dumka [in Ukrainian].

Makarov, A. (2017). Stil zhizni, nravy i vkusy starogo Kieva [Lifestyle, manners and habits of the Old Kyiv]. Kyiv: SKY HORSE [in Russian].

Molchanova, G.G. (2013). Traditsii gastiki kak otrazhenie natsionalnoi i regionalnoi identichnosti [Traditionals gustics as a reflection of national and regional identities]. Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta. Seriia 19: Lingvistika i mezhkulturnaia kommunikatsiia, 2, 20-26 [in Russian].

Nabrusko, I. (2016). Imperatyvnyi kharakter hastronomichnykh praktyk v ramkakh sotsialnoho prostoru suchasnoi liudyny [The imperative nature of gastronomic practices within social space of a modern person], Visnyk Kyivskoho natsionalnoho universytetu imeni Tarasa Shevchenka. Sotsiolohiia, 1, 10-14 [in Ukrainian].

Nikolenko, V.V. (2015). Hastronomichna kultura v protsesakh formuvannia hromadianskoi identychnosti: teoretychnyi ohliad problemy [Gastronomic culture in the formation of civil identity: theoretical overview of the problem], Hrani, 7, 46-52 [in Ukrainian].

Savchenko, F. (1930). Zaborona ukrainstva 1876 r. [Prohibition of Ukrainian of 1876]. Kharkiv-Kyiv: Derzhavne vydavnytstvo [in Ukrainian].

Uwagi o języku i alfabecie pism rusińskich w ziemi Halickiej napisał gente Ruthenus natione Polonus (1886). [Notes on the language and alphabet of the Ruthenian writings in Galicia by gente Ruthenus natione Polonus]. Krakow: Nakładem i czcionkami drukarni związkowej [in Polish].

Yekelchyk, S. (2010). Ukrainofily. Svit ukrainskykh patriotiv druhoi polovyny XIX stolittia [Ukrainophils: The world of Ukrainian patriots of the second half of the 19th century]. Kyiv: Vydavnytstvo KIS [in Ukrainian].

History of Ukraine