“The existence of this soup (…) is not in danger in itself, but it is the human and living heritage which is associated with borsch which is in immediate danger because the capacity of the populations to practice, transmit their intangible cultural heritage is seriously disrupted because of the armed conflict, in particular because of the forced displacement of the communities”, explained Pier Luigi Petrillo, the rapporteur of the evaluation committee of the Ukrainian file.
Ukraine had submitted a request in mid-April to include the culture of this soup on the list of intangible cultural heritage in danger, considering that the invasion of the country on February 24 by Russia and the months of bombardments that have resulted threatened the “viability” of the tradition surrounding this dish.
Because of the war, “the population is no longer able to prepare or even grow the local vegetables that are necessary to prepare” borsch, observed Mr. Petrillo.
“They cannot even come together to practice the preparation of borsch, which undermines the social and cultural aspects. As such, the transmission of this element is therefore at risk,” he continued.
“The armed conflict destroys the environment, the fauna, the flora”, still enumerated Pier Luigi Petrillo.
“For all these factors, it is necessary to carry out an urgent safeguarding of this element within the framework of the procedure of extreme urgency”, he decided.
Borsch is an age-old soup made from beets, usually served with bread or garlic rolls.
“Victory in the borsch war is ours,” rejoiced Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkatchenko following UNESCO’s announcement.
Ukraine “will win both the borscht war and this war,” he wrote on his Telegram account, alluding to the conflict with Russia.
Ukraine will share the recipe for this beetroot soup with all civilized countries, “and even with non-civilized ones too, so that they have at least something light, tasty and Ukrainian.”
The Ukrainian initiative had caused annoyance in Russia, where this dish is also prepared, although kyiv does not take credit for it.
“Even cookbooks have been banned (in Ukraine)! Why? Because it’s impossible to share borsch. Impossible! Because it can only belong to one people, one nationality,” according to kyiv, had judged in April Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“That it could be common, that each city, each region, each housewife prepares it in her own way, well that’s no! They didn’t want to compromise, and that’s xenophobia, Nazism, extremism in all its forms,” she continued, repeating the usual accusations made by Moscow against the Ukrainian authorities.