The 11 Foods/Food-Related Things that “Every” American Misses After They Lived in Ukraine

I’ve seen a plethora of lists floating around the internet these days. The food lists always seem to favor America and it’s 15,000 varieties of every food product, so I had to add in my own two cents.  This one’s for you, Ukraine.

The 11 Foods/Food-Related Things “Every” American Misses After They Lived in Ukraine

(And by “every,” I mean me.)

1. Roshen Chocolate

Move over, Hershey’s. You taste like cardboard compared to the delight of Roshen. The truffles in purple foil? DIVINE.

Fun fact –  The new president of Ukraine is the owner of Roshen.


This photo is from an Amazon site selling 4 Roshen bars for $10!!! Crazy expensive compared to Ukrainian prices.


2. Fresh fruits and vegetables 

Ever tasted a piece of fruit or a vegetable that was freshly picked? Ever known what it is like for almost EVERY piece of fruit to taste that good? Eating seasonal is the only option in many countries, and Ukraine is no exception (usually). Forget eating a bland package of strawberries for $7 in the middle of winter. Eat seasonal and your tastebuds will thank you. Plus, you get the benefit of buying things at a much more reasonable price. Plus, even when things are not in season, you have….#3!


Freshly picked from my host sister’s garden…berry season is the BEST!


3. Canned fruits, pickled vegetables, and homemade jam

I’m not sure when Americans stepped away from age-old methods of food preservation (maybe with the advent of the 24-hour supermarket and insane refrigeration methods?), but there’s nothing like eating your Ukrainian grandmother’s pickles in the dead of winter. First pickles I’ve ever liked in my life. Homemade jam? You can put it on anything, and I’ll probably eat it.


4. Grechka, aka buckwheat 

How many Americans know what buckwheat is? Sure, you may have heard of it used as a ground-up ingredient in specialty flour (buckwheat pancakes, perhaps?) but did you know it is also a staple grain that is gluten-free and can be used as a base for a variety of meals? Cheap, versatile, and easy to make – even I can’t screw it up!


Buckwheat, in all its cooked glory. Photo credit:


5. Beer purchased in .5 liter increments

That 12 ounce can you just handed me? It’s missing 150 milliliters.


6. The без ГМО label

без ГМО = without GMO’s. Ukrainians like their products natural, so you can find a plethora of без ГМО labels in your friendly neighborhood bazaar. I once saw water labelled “без ГМO.” I’m pretty sure if you genetically modify water, it’s not water anymore?

Although I was guilty of making a joke or two about the без ГМО labels, I’m willing to bet that the Europeans are getting this one right.



7. A Toast Before Every Drink

Sure, there may have been times that I spaced out during the 5 minute speeches that preceded every toast I witnessed in Ukraine, but a simple “cheers” just seems so……inadequate. Where are my wishes of good health, wealth, and happiness? Where are the acknowledgements of how you know and love every person in the room,? The third toast is to the women, right?


8. Tvorog

This is translated into English as “cottage cheese,” but it is not like American cottage cheese. It is a dry, crumbly cheese that I enjoyed with a nice helping of jam on top. Others enjoy it with honey, and a few friends even got me to try it with sour cream. Speaking of sour cream….


This very artistic photo of a bowl of tvorog is from


9. Smetana 

I’ve never been a sour cream fan. Until the day I met smetana (the Ukrainian word for sour cream is smetana). I don’t know what Ukrainians put into their smetana, but I would put it on everything. Delicious.


10. Your Friendly Neighborhood Bazaar

I miss shopping in bazaars (aka farmer’s markets, that typically are open every day). It was a great place to practice language, and each bazaar is its own little world. Plus, you developed favorites that you would happily share with guests and new arrivals – “The nut lady near the entrance is the best! The watermelon people are only charging 6 UAH per melon today!”


11. Ukrainian Traditional Dishes

Vareniki, golubtsy, deruny, blinchki, borscht….to name just a few. Yes, I can  make these dishes here in America, but it would taste better in Ukraine.


Ukrainian potato pancakes, aka deruny


Happy to take any comments!