Borscht is traditionally considered one of the most popular dishes of Ukrainian cuisine. In the English Wikipedia, Ukraine is even called the birthplace of beet borscht, and it is noted that the country boasts a wide variety of options for this dish.
Nevertheless, Russia has repeatedly claimed the popular dish, calling it its national one. In this regard, from time to time controversies flared up in social networks and the media, like: "So whose borscht really is?"
The fight for borscht. Kyiv decided to claim the rights to this dish
The tension around the "roots" of the popular soup arose back in May last year when the Russian Foreign Ministry called it "a symbol of traditional cuisine" on Twitter.
A timeless classic! #Borsch is one of Russia's most famous & beloved #dishes & a symbol of traditional cuisine????????????????????????????— Russia ???????? (@Russia) May 30, 2019
"There's a theory that the name "borsch" originated from the Russian borschevik (hogweed), which in ancient Rus was used to make soups."#Delicious #yummy pic.twitter.com/KjAKRkEsOS
The publication caused a lot of negative comments, however, the topic was not continued and the scandalous tweet was soon forgotten.
A new round of controversy began this year, on October 6, when the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine announced that borscht would be included in the list of the country's intangible cultural heritage.
In addition, as the head of the department, Oleksandr Tkachenko said, the ministry aims to include Ukrainian borscht in the UNESCO cultural heritage. This, based on his words, will put an end to discussions about the homeland of the recipe.
"This is not about gastronomic identification. It is a matter of protecting an important cultural component and part of history. The recognition of borscht as an intangible cultural heritage site by UNESCO will put an end to specially created discussions about the ethnic homeland of the recipe for the dish. As my grandmother told me, and her grandmother told her: borscht is Ukrainian," Tkachenko noted.
Well-known Kyiv chef Yevgen Klopotenko is involved in the preparation of an application for the inclusion of Ukrainian borscht in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, who a year and a half ago gathered a team of ten experts, culinary historians, and ethnographers and sent her to collect recipes for this dish throughout the country...
According to the chef, borscht needs to be protected, because "this is not about food, but about national identity."
According to Euronews, last month the chef brought a pot of borscht to the Ministry of Culture to persuade officials to apply for inclusion in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Foreign media: Borsch is a new front of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict
Of course, all the events described above caused a lot of noise and could not go unnoticed by foreign media.
For example, the British daily The Times, in its October 13 publication, expressed the opinion that the dispute between Russia and Ukraine over the origin of borscht "is approaching a boiling point."
On November 4, the American newspaper The New York Times published an article entitled "A new front in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict - borscht."
The authors of the material believe that the borscht dispute underlines deeper differences between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
One of the most influential American newspapers, The Washington Post, suggested that a culinary quarrel may be brewing between Ukraine and Russia.
The publication clarified that Ukraine plans to submit relevant materials to UNESCO next year, however, what will happen next, "one can only guess."
At the same time, the newspaper expressed concern that the dispute over who actually owns the right to brag about borscht threatens to involve not only Ukraine and Russia but also Poland and other countries.
At the same time, on October 6, a material appeared on the website of Rossiyskaya Gazeta (the official newspaper of the Russian government) claiming that "Ukraine has created new grounds for a scandal."
"Ukraine has organized a new cause for a scandal - its Ministry of Culture plans to nominate borscht for the title of" national cultural heritage "in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List... Every time such an initiative causes outrage in social networks, since borscht, that is, soup based on beets with various additives, is known throughout Eastern Europe, from Romania to Lithuania, and each country considers it its own dish," the publication says.
Latest news from the front of the fight for borscht
On the evening of December 22, a borscht cooking battle took place between Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Environment Protection and Natural Resources Roman Abramovsky, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna and Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine Ihor Petrashko.
As noted by Tkachenko, the participation of ministers in this event is extremely important for the promotion of the dish and the inclusion of "the culture of cooking Ukrainian borscht" in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Following the results of the battle, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine published a video in which the moderator of the event, Yevgen Klopotenko, tasted borscht of the participants in the competition and announced the winner.
It is also expected that on December 25, the ministry together with the public organization "Institute of Culture of Ukraine" with the participation of Klopotenko will hold an online presentation "The culture of cooking Ukrainian borscht" as part of the campaign to support its inclusion in the cultural heritage of UNESCO.