It was clear that a Russian war on Ukraine was becoming increasingly inevitable, but yesterday’s news that Russia’s madman has invaded still comes as shocking, sad news.
My friend Nicola Miller send out an email yesterday about the Ukrainian chef and author Olia Hercules, and she allowed me to share it in full with you all here. It includes links to Olia in various places, along with other Ukraine-related sites. If you’d like to know how you can help the people of Ukraine and keep abreast of happenings on the ground, I highly recommend that you follow her Instagram account (and look for the highlight named “Useful Intel” on her profile page).
Here’s Nicola’s email:
The first recipe I cooked from ‘Mamushka’, the debut cookbook by Olia Hercules, was a plateful of deruny; potato cakes with goats’ cheese. The second recipe I cooked was the roast duck with blackberry sauce she suggests as an accompaniment. “Goats are huge where I come from”, she writes in the preamble to her recipe. “They are superstars.” Olia Hercules is Ukrainian. Much of her family remains there. “Everything was illuminated,” she says of her homeland as she describes fields of giant sunflowers and “moustachioed pea pods”, green borshch “bursting with the malachite hue of wilted sorrel”and “a pink tomato the size of a grapefruit, with cracks in its sugary skin.” And this is just her introduction.
All of Olia’s books are about family and heritage. And goats. But it is she who is the superstar, steadily shining her beautiful light on a much-misunderstood nation. Her country must be so proud of her. And I stand with her and her fellow Ukrainians.
Olia on borscht for The New Yorker. And The Ukrainer on Olia.
Here’s her insta because I’m sure Olia will post details of how we can help Ukraine via donations and consciousness-raising. And her Twitter account is here.
Ukrainian Embassy in the UK
The Ukrainian Institute website.
A charity helping Ukrainian children affected by conflict and war.
And here are links to a couple of Olia’s Ukrainian bread recipes. I know she’d be happy to see people making them in solidarity for the people of Ukraine, especially if it accompanied a monetary donation to the cause, like Rebecca did:
And here is a link to a great photo essay from in The Washington Post: A photographer reflects on her ancestral home in Izium, Ukraine.
My relatives tell me it has never mattered to ordinary people in Izium or in the region whether you are Ukrainian or Russian or which language you speak. The residents, who all have had either firsthand experience or intergenerational memories of wars past and present, agree that an imperfect peace is better than war. As I read the news of the escalating conflict on my phone in Los Angeles every morning, I only wish more suffering can be prevented and peace and healing can prevail for the people who have already seen far too much suffering.
Wishing a quick return to peace for the people of Ukraine. See you all next week.
That poppy seed bread...yummy.
Thank you for sharing this! I have to admit that I just discovered Olia this past weekend after turning on PBS being totally drawn in to watch her cook her borsht and a beautiful roast pork dish.