«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

Abstract

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.

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Published
05.10.2019
Section
History of Ukraine