In the middle of the 17th century (1654), the Syrian Patriarch Macarius traveled through the Ukrainian lands. His impressions were described in detail by his son Pavel Aleppsky. A special place in these ancient manuscripts is occupied by the description of the cuisine of the Kyiv clergy. The numerous meals among the Kiev church elite, which the Patriarch visited, amaze with their sophistication. And if you thought until now that Ukrainian cuisine is borscht and dumplings, now we will change stereotypes.
“Firstly, sweets and jams were served ... made of green sweet walnuts, cherries with many spices, ... bread with honey with spices and vodka ...” - this is how the author describes the first treats with which the meal at the church table began, regardless - it is fasting time or not.
Kiev dry jam, which is mentioned by Pavel Aleppsky, has been known to historians since the wedding of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagail and the Polish queen Jadwiga, held in 1386.
"Bread with honey with spices" is very similar to the description of the gingerbread, which has long been loved in Kiev. The first gingerbread cookies appeared in Russia back in the 9th century, then they were prepared with rye flour, honey and fruit juice.
"Vodka" in the 17th century was brewed from rye with the addition of hops. (By the way, hop is one of the versions explaining the surname of hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky, in translation Khmel is hop ). This drink was used for medicinal purposes: for good digestion, for various ailments. Therefore, it was made on various herbs, spices and fruits.
After this kind of “aperitif”, the main courses were served. Monday, Wednesday, Friday are fast days (in addition to the established long fasts). They did not eat meat, fish, dairy products these days. All meatless dishes were based on mushrooms, vegetable oil, cookies, pancakes with spices and saffron.
The serving of the dishes was also special: the first dish was always set in front of the distinguished guest - the patriarch, then the dish was moved in a circle, they used only silver dishes.
Pavel Alepsky recalls an impressive assortment of alcohol beverages: apart from “vodkas”, these were honey, wine and beer.
Honey - as an alcohol drink, has been known since the reign of Princess Olga, its production was very long. Oak barrels with a mixture of water, honey and fruit were buried in the ground for 10 long years. In the 16th century, hops were added to the recipe to speed up the process.
Beer was also known in the 12th century. He is mentioned in the letter of the Metropolitan to Prince Vladimir Monomakh, who ruled Kiev at the beginning of the 12th century. For the Sofia monastery, beer was brewed in a malt house in the Pankovschina region and sent to the bishop's glacier (a cellar with ice on the territory of the monastery, where food was stored).
Wine - this drink in the memoirs of Pavel Alepsky is a real surprise. He claims to have tasted "excellent red wine from their own (Kiev monastery) vineyards." Vines in Kiev are mentioned in many historical sources, there are 17th century engravings depicting vineyards. But because of the weather conditions in Kiev there were no mass cultivation of grapes, the monasteries produced their own wine exclusively for special occasions. For example, to treat Patriarch Macarius with a special local wine.
What was the table like in the non-fast days in the metropolitan's house? Having studied many historical sources about this, Igor Netudikhatkin wrote a wonderful book "Old Life Ukrainian cuizine ..." I will only retell for you the menu of one of the banquets.
The main detail of the meal is a lot of meat:
First serving: large, baked cuts of meat in an assortment with exquisite sauces (with saffron, cherry juice, plum pulp), pates from the same meats, meat without sauces, but with spices.
Second serving : fried meat, both homemade and game with several vegetable salads.
Third serving: dishes in the form of mashed peas with lard, porridge, dough fried in butter with cheese.
And for dessert, an original dish with drug properties: thin cakes made of buckwheat flour, which were dipped in the juice from the grains of white poppy seeds. It was a great way to relax and then sleep well.
At the courtyard of the Sophia monastery, the kitchen for the metropolitan was on the left behind the metropolitan's house. It was a stone, spacious building that existed until the 1830s.
Who worked there? The list is impressive: cooks of bishop's and brotherly cuisines, water carriers, watchmen, bakers, laundresses, and this is not a complete list. The highest salary was for the “kukhmist” (cook) of the bishop's cuisine.
And a little about fish. Sturgeons and carps from the Dnieper River, crucians and roach from the Lybid River came to the table of Archbishop Rafail Zaborovsky. The fish was fried, baked and dried. But among the traditional fish dishes, there are also unusual, elite dishes, such as cuttlefish dishes.
And finally, a rather unexpected fact: overseas almonds, dates, olives, lemons were an integral part of the table of the Kiev metropolitans. Moreover, dates and olives had an important symbolic meaning, thanks to the Book of the Lives of the Saints. According to this book, these foods were sent by Jesus to the early Christian followers to maintain their vitality.
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