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Borscht soup controversy - Ukraine, Russia, Poland: What you need to know

Borscht soup
Picture courtesy: Russian Beyond

On March 5, 2021, Ukraine is holding a nation-wide online cook-in on YouTube as an effort to get UNESCO recognition of borscht, which is a traditional beetroot-based soup, as a Ukrainian dish. However, "borshch" is also a staple dish in both Russian and Polish cuisines. The Polish version has a slightly different name "barszcz".

While the beetroot is the basic ingredient, the soup comes in many versions and there is no single Ukrainian style.

The government campaign has added a new twist to the ongoing rivalry between Ukraine and Russia, which have been in conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region.

In December 2020, Russian comedian Andrei Bocharov started a controversy on Twitter when he tweeted a photo of "Russian borscht". In the same month, the Ukrainian embassy in Paris complained about the Michelin Guide for referring to borscht as a Russian dish. Michelin apologized for "gastronomic carelessness with an unexpected political connotation".

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