Autumn. Harvest season.
By Paul Miazga
For me it’s surprising that Ukrainians don’t do more with pumpkins and other large gourds when they are in season at this time of year. It seems a type of porridge is all that’s eaten, made of chunks of pumpkin, gourd or what have you, peeled and fried on the stovetop in some water and then drizzled with a bit of honey. It’s a nice alternative to bacon and eggs, but not as daily fare.
I, for one, enjoy this amazingly versatile vegetable in many ways. There’s the ubiquitous pumpkin pie and toasted pumpkin seeds, but there are also lovely, rich, cold-weather soups like curried pumpkin bisque, and what of tossing in some pumpkin (along with some parsnips, carrots and other items) when boiling potatoes to get a lovely mix of mashed veg for dinner?
While I’m not going to give out any recipes here, I want to encourage readers currently in Kyiv to head to their local market over the weekend and check out some of the classic cold weather food: aside from pumpkins and gourds you’ll find proper chestnuts for roasting over an open fire (the ones on the trees in town are not the edible kind), parsnips (as mentioned above, they too add a great nuance of flavor to any mashed veg on the table), a range of beans (pinto, broad, wax, green, even black-eyed) and – for larger dinner plan considerations – farm-raised hens, turkeys and other game birds (duck, pheasant, squab and more).
Don’t know what to do with any of these? Head to your favorite local restaurant; one is sure to be serving a soup or other rich dish involving this underappreciated vegetable. Or, if staying in, open another web browser on your computer and go looking for some new recipes to try out. It won’t be long before winter prices make the market a nightmare in which to shop, so now’s the time to get the goods and enjoy them.
A-ha set to play
Here’s another thing that surprises me for some reason: why big European pop and rock stars still haven’t heard how bad of a venue the Sports Palace (or any venue other than the National Opera) in Kyiv really is. The latest victim of the aging audio equipment at the Sports Palace was Deep Purple, who returned to the city last week after a triumphant debut a year ago.
Deep Purple, like the Black Eyed Peas, David Gahan and others before them, suffered a power failure during their concert at the Sports Palace; for 15 minutes there was no sound, nothing. It must be every professional musician’s worst nightmare (that or the royalty checks stop coming).
Rather than fix such a chronic problem, Sports Palace officials seem content to keep things as they are and, I assume, sheepishly ask visiting bands to tone down the music so they don’t overheat the circuitry. It’s mystifying, but not nearly as much as why foreign bands continue to come here. Local promoters must be paying out huge appearance fees let along guaranteeing ticket sales.
The reason I say this that A-ha of all bands should know better. They played a concert at Ukraine Palace more than two years ago and there they too suffered a power failure for roughly halfway into their concert. Undaunted (or maybe their fears adequately assuaged), they’ve decided to play the Sports Palace on Thursday, Oct. 26 (7 p.m.) Tickets are already on sale – but for a whopping Hr 130 to Hr 900. A word of note: don’t even think of buying the tickets for Hr 900 – they’re for those who want to stand at the back in the VIP zone with garden-variety “new” Ukrainians. The seats for Hr 130 are likely right near the stage, so save your money and get those instead. Ask the ticket agent, though, just to be sure.
And you’ll feel a lot better about the price you paid if the power goes out again this time.