Ukrainian women Irena Boujenko and Anna Priplotski cook cabbage rolls for the Travelling Table. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
While the Ukraine has become known for tragic news stories, a group of grandmothers in Adelaide hope to change that sharing both food and stories.
Tucked away inside a tiny kitchen in Adelaide’s western suburbs, the group of babas have been lovingly preparing treats from their homeland as part of The Travelling Table, a pop-up migrant restaurant and workshop at the Unley Town Hall that aims to share the food, language and culture of South Australia’s migrant community.
The country of Ukraine made international headlines in 2014 when a passenger plane was shot down over the country.
“(We would like) people to know who Ukrainians are and what a beautiful and lovely tradition we have whether it’s culinary, or our costumes or our woodwork,” said Ukrainian woman Nat Fedyk.
Mrs Fedyk feared that news and Chernobyl were the only things many Australians associated with her country.
“Our families came out post-war, so there wasn’t a lot of Ukrainian things around,” she said.
“People asked me ‘oh you’re Ukrainian’, where’s that?
“Until Chernobyl, nobody really knew.”
There are some 4000 people in the Ukrainian community in South Australia, but unlike the state’s many other migrant groups, Ukrainian restaurants are rare.
Many Australians probably haven’t tasted the likes of vareniky — dumplings — or borscht — a beetroot soup — unless they have sat at the kitchen table of a Ukrainian family.
These women hope that will change this weekend when they host their first pop up restaurant.
Not only will they cook for hundreds of people, they will also share stories about growing up in Ukraine while performing traditional dances and songs.
Event co-founder Sam Wright said he wanted to give these women a voice and bring the wider community together to hear it.
“We’re as much about the food as we are about the stories; we want them to feel like they’re coming to the kitchen of these babas and sharing food and good times,” he said.
“What I recognised was there wasn’t an opportunity for people who didn’t have that connection into that community to try that food and hear those stories.”
Ukrainian families get together to enjoy cuisine from their homeland. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
South Australian Ukrainian Women’s Association president Irena Boujenko migrated to Australia 26 years ago searching for a better life for her daughters.
And while she loves her life in Australia, she wants her new country to understand and share the beauty of her homeland.
“You are surrounded by beautiful nature … it’s near the Carpathian mountains it’s a lot of beautiful forests, lots of mushrooms and berry picking,” she said.
“At the beginning [in Australia], we’d try all different kinds of food but we didn’t feel full and happy unless it was something Ukrainian on the table.
“Mostly we eat traditional Ukrainian food, all the family would come together and it would be borscht very often and vareniky.
“It’s very rich and uses a lot of natural products and it’s delicious.”
The Travelling Table will run until Saturday.