Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Market Day in Kherson, Ukraine

Kherson is a charming, if somewhat down-at-the-heels port town in the southern Ukraine Dneiper delta region, which obviously is off the tourist circuit. Historically, this is the region of "Agric Settlements" - when the Russian Tsars finally wrested control of this region from the Tatars of the Golden Horde, it was settled by farmers lured by the offer of land free from the yoke of serfdom. Large communities of Mennonites from Friesia setted here, from where they eventually emigrated to Canada and the United States. Jews also formed such settlements in a Zionist back-to-the-land movement which intended to make husky proletarian farmhands out of ghetto shoemakers and yeshiva buchers.
We found the central market in Kherson, and as we snapped photos, people didn't react adversely to us at all... in fact, they mugged for the camera.
The novelty of meeting "turisti" here overcame everybody's reticence.
Our first encounter with the more hillbilly side of dried fish... there was a pile of raw minows here with a little cup for you to spit the bones into after a taste. Even Fumie couldn't bring herself to try, and she is about as adventurous as human beings can get when it comes to raw fish. When I go fishing I have to watch that she doesn't start snacking out of the bait bucket.
Smoked whole catfish. Apparently, there is a whole cuisine involving dried or smoked fish and beer, condiered as a whole set meal in itself. You pick bits off of dried fish and swig beer, the fish playing a role sort of like chips... Old men would stand around piles of dried fish arguing the merits of one or the other. I bought a packet of pre-stripped dried fish. The stench was incredible, and no, I couldn't get more than two bits down the gullet before tossing the whole thing away.
The old Comintern Cinema seems to have seen better days...
Take out lunch from a supermarket: one US dollar gets you ten stuffed cabbage golubsi.


Tania said...
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Tania said...

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