Wunderkammer #2: Shot Glass, Kiev 2019

Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and a fabulous leafy city to wander around on a sunny day. Maidan Square, or Independence Square- is the city centre and also the focal point for collective identity in contemporary Ukraine. It was here that the 2014 ‘Revolution of Dignity’ that ousted former President Yanukovych began. Next to it, to our amusement, is the ‘Museum of Jellyfish’, which we, unfortunately, did not have time to visit.

Khreshchatyk Street is the main street in Kiev, and it is quite wide but extremely short. Its length is just 1.3 km (0.8 mi). It is lined with outdoor cafes and wide streets with buskers and street performers and lovely shop fronts with big display windows. We bought a bright red suitcase and a green snuggle blanket here. Most tourists buy magnets and pens…

The underground train system in Kiev was not difficult to travel on despite our monolingual limitations. There are only three underground lines in Kiev (green, red and blue). The Arsenalna metro station is the deepest station in the world, and its escalator the longest- 105.5 meters (346 ft) underground.

Like most underground systems, when one goes in the wrong direction, all one needs to do is go back where one started and try again. However, much like the rabbit hole and directions in Alice in Wonderland, it is difficult to know in which direction to go, if one in fact does not know where one is going.
I think this is the outline image for my shot glass…

As we descended back into the subterranean world of the underground system, I walked past souvenir shops and snackeries. I was always disappointed that I couldn’t eat everything I could lay my eyes on; Ukrainian food with all its cheesy, fatty, fried yumminess and all the fresh, flavoursome produce that can just be sliced up and served on a plate. I was permanently full- a good thing we walked so far and wide every day or I would be as voluminous as a stuffed cheese dumpling with legs.

The non-alcoholic drink was soda infused with lime, chilli and lemon. Another taste sensation I intend on replicating in my everyday life repeatedly and with gusto.
Vodka is needed to cut through the fattiness of the lard. Why bother with either, then? I hear a cardiac surgeon hypothetically ask. Why indeed, I would reply. Because I can. And it is more delicious than what you would imagine.
Lard, pickles and vodka. I think I know my culinary DNA now.
Yes …we did go there. I must admit it was even a bit much for my artery-clogging tastes. If I walked everywhere and worked hard in the fields all day, perhaps I could justify it. Alas, I am a soft, town dwelling weakling.

I also liked the habit of having a shot of vodka and a pickle with meals. I vowed to take that little part of Kiev with me wherever I went in the world. One of the underground souvenir stores, about as big as my bathroom so standing room for me and the storekeeper only- I purchased this little shot glass. Every time I slam down a vodka I think of this special day in a very interesting and vibrant city.

Lemon vodka and lard and pickled cucumber on dark bread. With salt. My new favourite cuisine.

My Odessan friend Alex told me the way to say ‘Cheers’ in Ukrainian is ‘Na!’ or ‘ Za Zdorovie!’

The vodka outside of Ukraine is not as good of course- so I will have to go back there one day.

Leave a Reply