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Stateside Podcast: A culinary tribute to Ukraine

Frame Ukrainian meu
Frame
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Frame
Frame's "Slavic Solidarity" dinner will honor Ukrainian cuisine, and proceeds support humanitarian efforts in the area.

Frame, a restaurant in Hazel Park, is putting together a menu that celebrates Ukrainian culture for an event later this month called “Slavic Solidarity.” The dinner series will raise money to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. As the situation between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate, this event is timely. But for Frame’s editorial director, Mark Kurlyandchik, it’s also personal.

“I have roots both in Russia and Ukraine, as well as Poland and Lithuania,” he said.

He had a Jewish grandfather who moved from Ukraine to Lithuania and married a Polish woman. He also had a Russian grandmother who, as a young girl, was captured by Nazis and put on a train that derailed in the forests of Lithuania, where she grew up. She married a Polish man.

Kurlyandchik was born in Soviet Lithuania and grew up speaking Russian and Polish, but thought of himself as Russian, citing the residual effects of Russification. He noted that the roots of imperial Russia run strong, and have impacted how he views his own national identity and the language he still speaks with his parents.

“The one thing that I really love about my culture is its sense of hospitality and the way that, you know, we comfort ourselves with food and drink, even in the worst of times.” Kurlyandchik said.

This event was first slated to serve Russian cuisine, where Kurlyanchik said the goal was to “have some fun with, you know, the cuisines of imperial Russia.” But recent events in Ukraine led him to change the focus.

“This was supposed to be a fun sort of Romanoff inspired event kind of in the theme of The Great, which is a really funny show on Hulu about Catherine the Great,” Kurlyandchik said. ”But I mean, in the last few days, celebrating Russian imperialism, even in a jokey kind of pop culture way just felt really wrong.”

The event will now have a focus on Ukrainian cuisine, and feature dishes including Zakuski, Borscht, Chicken Kiev and Syrniki.

“Basically, the table is always spread with meats and cheeses and bread and pickled things, you know, to go with the vodka,” he said.

The proceeds of the event will support the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America's #SupportUkraine humanitarian effort, which focuses on aiding refugees, children, and Ukrainian frontline workers, he told us.

“I couldn't think of a more appropriate way, I guess, to raise money for the effort of the people who are struggling than by having a dinner celebrating their culture,” Kurlyandchik said.

“Slavic Solidarity” is being held March 25th, 26th and 27th. You can learn more about the event and check out the menu here.

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Stateside’s theme music is by 14KT.

Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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Erin Allen comes to Michigan Radio as a new producer for the station’s Stateside show. She is an experienced communicator driven by her curiosity about stories of people.
Claire Murashima is a production assistant for Stateside.