Borscht Under Fire

Important Note! This post does not intend to provoke or suggest whatever attitude toward either side of the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict. Nor to insult or impugn the national dignity of the Russian and Ukrainian people.

The war between Ukraine and Russia already goes beyond the military frontline. This conflict illuminated long-standing disputes between the two countries about cultural and culinary heritage. Even the traditional Borscht soup has come under fire.

Far beyond the military battlefield

After the outbreak of the conflict, London’s National Gallery renamed the theme series of pastels by Edgar Degas depicting women performing ethnic dances, from Russian Dancers to Ukrainian Dancers

Degas created the series in the 1890s and early 1900s. He was fascinated by the beautiful dancers from the Russian Empire performing in Paris. Throughout the twentieth century, these paintings were notorious as Russian Dancers in English and French sources. Despite the ethnographic and historical discussions about the Ukrainian origins of women.

Several voices have emerged calling for the misleading Russian name to be changed. They criticized it as a deliberate or lazy misinterpretation of Ukraine. After all, London’s National Gallery renamed the series to Ukrainian Dancers in response to the military conflict.

The disputed Borscht soup

Apart from all other battlefields, Kyiv and Moscow are also arguing over Borscht SoupUkraine considers the thick, nutritious soup cooked with red beets, a national dish, although it is popular in Russia, other former Soviet republics, and Poland.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, included Ukrainian Borscht on its list of intangible cultural heritage in danger.

However, the Organization noted that Ukrainian Borscht is only a variant of a regional soup. And it deserves protection from the negative impact of the war as an essential part of everyday life in the country.

Notwithstanding, the question remains if it would be decent to rename titles of classical artworks whenever the political context changes. Not only regarding this conflict, but also at large. The tables could always turn in favor of the other side.

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