GrandMas project

Olha's Kholodets

by Nadia Parfan
Ukraine


“In a way, I am vegetarian. At least, my grandma believes so. Born and raised in rural Galicia (Western Ukraine), she has kept her meatless peasant diet for half-century of urban life. Her daily food includes potatoes, grains, beans, vegetables, dairy products. However, whenever I visit my grandma she offers me a generous slice of salo (lard). She insists that salo is lenten, i.e. vegetarian. Grandma knows what she is talking about. For her, food is the deepest expression of love: the more nutritious the more loving. Why would I doubt the person who saw the famine, the war, the collapse of Soviet Union? I tend accept my doze of fattening vegetrarian love. My grandma is quite austere when it comes to Orthodox fasting. She avoids many things in order to celebrate them when a Holy Day comes, but this is not the whole story. It is equally important to cook something special for real occasions. One such thing is kholodets (aspic). It takes a while to cook kholodets – and she does it exactly while rigorously fasting. She asks her meat dealer to get her pig hooves, ears, head and all the anatomy which makes for a sound jelly. She boils it good and proper – and the whole house is immersed in a smell. She pours it in transparent jars and leaves them at a frosty winter balcony to wait in the wings. The morning after lenten Christmas eve, she is there to offer the family kholodets for breakfast – the ultimate expression of love and sanctity, the most vegetarian of all the meat dishes.”