January 01, 2020

A Dish for All Seasons



A Dish for All Seasons
Rice Kutya Nikolai Donetsk

January 7 is Russian Orthodox Christmas, which brought to mind a Christmas dish. But then research showed that the chosen one, kutya, or sochivo as it’s also known, is much more than a winter holiday treat.

The recipe for kutya actually dates back to Ancient Greece – it translates simply as “boiled grain” – and has been served in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus at funeral feasts and in the lead up to religious holidays, yet it’s also well known to other Slavic nations. Its main component, grain, has always been a symbol of eternal life and rebirth, and it was believed that by eating kutya, people became a part of the endless circle of life.

The poppy seeds and nuts added to the dish symbolize fertility, and by adding them people would “program” their families to attain abundance, wealth and generosity. This is why, in addition to religious holidays and funeral feasts, kutya has often been cooked for the weddings and to celebrate the birth and christening of children. The honey in the recipe that is used to sweeten the dish symbolizes the pleasures of eternal life.


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