Awakening Memories Book – Chapter “Eating in Orphanage”


Borshch wasn’t always my favorite food. This red beet root soup, as Americans call it, became one of my favorite dishes later in my life. But while growing up I had to learn a hard way to like it.

Borshch was usually served during lunch time in Orphanage. We had lunch from 1 to 2pm. The meals usually consisted of three courses. First was some kind of soup, or Borshch, second was usually served with some kind of meat and mashed potatoes or some kind of casserole, and the third course was some juice or kampot (dry fruits boiled with sugar added drink). Well, when Borshch usually was served or some pork meat with fat chunks was served, I was in trouble with my teacher.

Some people may be familiar of what’s included in borshch. The main ingredient is beets. Borshch usually starts off being made with real beans soaked in the water for a day. The next day we start boiling meat. If there is no beef meat then we use bullion cubes to make borshch taste as if there is meat in it. So, beets, meat, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, beans, tomato sauce, and spices are the main ingredients for borshch. There are different types of borshch, depending on what ingredients are taken out or added. But the one I am writing about is the one authentic traditional borshch that we usually eat with authentic Ukrainian sour cream and garlic bread rolls. I emphasized authentic Ukrainian sour cream because it tastes different from American sour cream. To have the best eating experience with borshch you ought to eat it with authentic Ukrainian sour cream and our traditional Ukrainian rolls covered with garlic mix. But this is not the way Borshch was served to us in Orphanage.

Our borshch was served with bread and sour cream. There were no much potato, cabbage, beets and other important ingredients in borshch. It was more like drinking soup. After I ate up all of the goodies, I ended up lifting my bowl and drinking borshch. But before I drunk up the rest of it I had to pick out the cooked onions from borshch and put them on the sides of the bowl. I didn’t like seeing onions floating in borshch because it meant if I left those cooked onions in borshch I had to drink them up as well. But I never liked cooked onions. The onions, most of the time, when they are boiled, reminded me of boiled fat that I had to swallow when it was served during our second course meal, because it was impossible to chew on it. Every time I left some leftovers in my plate, such as fat or cooked onions I was punished. You can imagine now yourself chewing on a boiled fat. It is as if you are chewing on someone’s eyeball. Not delicious at all, and certainly not a pleasant texture at all. Almost always I gagged when I tried to swallow cooked onions or cooked fat. Because of that I was always punished by my teacher. The punishment was simple, I was hit with a table spoon on my head or I was yelled at for throwing away food. But regardless of what was done to me physically or emotionally to encourage me to eat what I was given, I managed not to eat it and dumped it with all other foods that went to pigs’ consumption. Our school had a little farm where they raised pigs and chickens. I don’t remember about our farm much though. So, sometimes, in order to escape punishment I had to be creative. My creativity involved with coming up with different ways of getting rid off food I didn’t like without my teacher noticing it. Sometimes some chunks of yucky food were thrown under the table while the teacher wasn’t looking at me during our meals. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t always discovered, but at least, for some time I was able to escape the punishment.

Since the time I left orphanage I spent a lot of time cooking my own foods. I’ve learned how to like foods I used to dislike and how to make them more appetizing so no body gets punished in a restaurant for not eating it.