'Food for the soul': Pyrizhky, or pirozhki, help heal cultural divides

·2-min read

The Pirojki Bar in Paris unites traditional dishes from Ukraine and Russia on one menu.

The owner Elena Biktimirova carries both cultures and countries in her heart and her background. She was born in Russia, but her grandmother and many relatives are from Ukraine.

This made Biktimirova open the restaurant after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, believing there is a way to unite people torn apart by the war.

"I am Russian, and I have three brothers today in Ukraine with their families. These are the recipes of my Ukrainian and Russian grandmothers," Biktimirova told Euronews.

"For example, my grandmother who is from a Ukrainian village taught me how to make dumplings. The most precious thing from my childhood is the taste of my grandmother's food, of those dumplings."

'The world needs this'

She was surprised by how positively the public reacted to her idea. Many of her clients come from both Ukraine and Russia and says that everyone is happy to support the Pirojki Bar, as it is a place of unity, peace, love and taste, which they have known since childhood.

The bar was decorated by contemporary artists from various countries, who were inspired by the idea of unity and peace and contributed for free. Women who cook here, helping Elena, came to Paris from both Russia and Ukraine.

The most well-known offering on the menu -- pyrizhky, as they are called in Ukrainian or pirozhki in Russian -- is a savoury bun stuffed with various fillings.

Just like their names, the recipes from the two countries are also extraordinarily similar, much to the surprise of her guests, Biktimirova said.

"I can give this to the world -- it helps, it saves me and I think everyone who works with me, and everyone who comes here," she said. "The world needs this, because if we forget that we are one, then we will not exist."

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