“Despite a very diverse ethnic mix of my family, I feel Ukrainian, beyond any doubt,” says Olia Hercules, an author of “Mamushka. Recipes from Ukraine and beyond”. Olia spoke to a packed some of some 50 people at the Ukrainian Institute December 17, 2017.
This event was greatly anticipated: many were eager to get to know Olia, whose book became an instant hit and TV appearances are drawing an ever growing pool of supporters. This is the first time the Ukrainian Institute made the recipe book a focal point of an event. Because there’s so much more in this book than just a selection of food recipes: it conjures up the whole new idea of Ukraine – the land of sunflower fields, sun-drenched tomatoes, with an amazing mix of cultures and flavours thrown in.
“Green borshch, bursting with the malachite hue of wilted sorrel” and “enticing smells of warm poppy seed cakes” – it evokes smells and colours of a happy childhood spent in the south of Ukraine and creates that positive feeling about the country Ukraine so desperately needs. Watch Olia’s video when she teaches the Brits to make Chicken Tabaka and a Ukrainian wedding korovai and they will make you feel proud and amused. Some have already spoken of Olia as a great ambassador for Ukraine, cutting through gloom of daily reports of war and corruption and making Ukraine shine.
Originally from Kakhovka in the south of Ukraine, she came to the success of “Mamushka” through a culinary career, which included working in Ottolenghi restaurant kitchen and developing recipes for a variety of food magazines, including Sainsbury’s and Jamie’s. She appeared in cookery shows: Red, Hot and Yummy, Guardian Cook and picked as Observer Rising Star of 2015.