The first recipe I cooked from ‘Mamushka’, the debut cookbook by Olia Hercules, was a plateful of deruny; potato cakes with goats’ cheese. The second recipe I cooked was the roast duck with blackberry sauce she suggests as an accompaniment. “Goats are huge where I come from”, she writes in the preamble to her recipe. “They are superstars.” Olia Hercules is Ukrainian. Much of her family remains there. “Everything was illuminated,” she says of her homeland as she describes fields of giant sunflowers and “moustachioed pea pods”, green borshch “bursting with the malachite hue of wilted sorrel” and “a pink tomato the size of a grapefruit, with cracks in its sugary skin.” And this is just her introduction.
All of Olia’s books are about family and heritage. And goats. But it is she who is the superstar, steadily shining her beautiful light on a much-misunderstood nation. Her country must be so proud of her. And I stand with her and her fellow Ukrainians.
Ukrainian Embassy in the UK
The Ukrainian Institute website.
A charity helping Ukrainian children affected by conflict and war.
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