Ukrainians on a Road Trip

My parents are driving over from Montreal. They are bringing:

1. Bell peppers

2. Eggplant

3. Duck legs

4. Smoked sausage

5. Pasta

6. Corn oil

7. Honey

8. Cucumbers

9. Pork

10. Macarons

11. Green peas

12. Condensed milk

13. Farmer’s cheese

14. Mascarpone

15. A meat grinder

16. Bread

17. Three kinds of fish (1 fresh and 2 smoked)

18. Canned meat

19. A large cooking pot

20. Millet

21. Beets (“Yes, I know you have beets. But I don’t trust anybody else’s beets. The ones I’m bringing are real beets.”)

And a lot more that I can’t remember.

We don’t have food shortages here in the US but Ukrainians don’t travel without food. My mother and aunt recently traveled to the Cayman Islands and brought their own rice, sugar, cookies, etc with them.

The border patrol virtuously confiscated a jar of dandelion jam. I’m sure the jam is a lot scarier than endless shipments of black tar heroin crossing the border all the time.

For the past 30 minutes, my mother was on the phone from the hotel where they are spending the night making me write down a list of food I absolutely have to buy before she arrives tomorrow. On top of everything they are bringing and what we already have. Because she needs to start cooking the moment she arrives. After driving all the way from Canada. (My father doesn’t drive). As much as I tried to convince her that there is no need to start cooking immediately, it was all in vain. We need to cook! There’s nothing to eat!

This is what a collective food trauma looks like.

15 thoughts on “Ukrainians on a Road Trip”

  1. Those are some great quality groceries, I should invite your parents here. I’m going to N.O. tomorrow and taking with me the things I have that I am afraid will wilt if I leave them at home. They are 3 heads of lettuce (2 kinds), 3 tomatoes, and a few other things like that. I might take some other groceries so I don’t have to buy them, but then again that would just mean I’d have buy more when I get home, so I am undecided.


  2. P.S. I am impressed they got all that produce in here. USA takes it away, usually, and California has its own border patrol and definitely does not like you to bring in (various kinds of) produce. Fear of bugs, it is.


    1. Pretty sure if they’re coming from Montreal, they’re not going to be going through California — it’s on the other coast. :p

      There are actually more restrictions on bringing produce into Canada than there are on bringing produce into the US. As long as you’re not bringing along the actual plants, the produce (peppers, eggplants, beets), just needs to be declared and inspected. They still have the right to confiscate, but they don’t usually do it automatically. This doesn’t apply to CA, of course. The rest of the food items in the list are actually specifically on an example list of allowed foods. The meat would need to be declared, but as long as it was in its original packaging and specifically says it’s from Canada, it shouldn’t be an issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “collective food trauma”

    A few months ago I was (unusally for me) in a mall food court. I got my meal at a fish place with unlimited side orders and was feeling a little guilty at how much was on the plate (more than other people around me).

    Then three guys sat down at the next table and each one had just a… mountain of food, well over twice what this little piggy had gotten… and it was really unhealthy stuff with piles of fried things (it looked like they had gone to more than one counter and gotten the deepest fried things from each one). Guess what flag one of them had on his jacket!


  4. The frame-of-mind people develop to “not ever be caught off-guard again”.
    Life’s “surprises” have made me overcautious and self-conscious of certain things as well. Although food is not one of them.


  5. One of my brothers used to live in Quebec and had a running feud with the border guards over things like the bananas he took along to snack on in the car.
    I have a strong food-is-love association so it gives me warm fuzzies to think of your parents bringing you all this food and planning to cook for you. Bon appetit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You laugh but I’ve been told to rush to the store immediately to get precisely cabbage and potatoes.

      And yes, she’s bringing cherries. Head desk.


  6. “This is what a collective food trauma looks like”

    How old is the trauma? I know the 20th century was pretty rough was it better, worse, different before?

    Poland had it’s own share of trauma in the 20th century including food trauma (not as bad as Ukraine’s but very real nonetheless) but has mostly reacted very differently, Poles are mostly not big eaters and are often kind of picky. I once translated a paper in ethnography that stressed that pre-20th century food culture in Poland was mostly about restraint and control and…. miserliness (for lack of a better word) and made a bunch of things I’d been puzzling over very clear.
    I want to say that Ukrainians turned the trauma outward taking everything they can while they can while Poles turned the trauma inward, imposing regimens of control and moderation… or is that backward?


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