Culinary map preserves unique recipes

The world tourist market is experiencing hard times as demand slumps for previously popular tourist destinations. Travellers from Russia and Western Europe view Belarusian landscapes as an alternative to their previous holiday destinations
The world tourist market is experiencing hard times as demand slumps for previously popular tourist destinations. Travellers from Russia and Western Europe view Belarusian landscapes as an alternative to their previous holiday destinations.



Guesthouse and hotel owners are doing their utmost to take advantage of these new opportunities. They understand that it’s a challenge to satisfy the needs of modern tourists and, with this in view, they are enhancing the level of their services and competing in the inventiveness and creativity of their ideas. In February, another original attraction is to become available: The Culinary Map. Using it, travellers will be able to plan new routes through Belarus. The Chair of the Board of the Belarusian Agro- and Ecotourism Association Country Escape, Valeria Klitsounova, spoke of the niche which this project fills in the tourist business.

Ms. Klitsounova, what has inspired you to publish this gastronomic guide?

It’s well known that a desire to taste national cuisine often inspires people to travel. For example, a poll conducted among tourists coming to Georgia has shown that half of them went there to taste the Georgian food. 6m out of 56m visited Spain because of their gastronomic interests. I believe this is also possible in our country, as Belarus has plenty of places offering delicious and unusual food. I think the map will help break some stereotypes and assure tourists that Belarusians don’t only eat draniki (potato pancakes).

What is your culinary guide? 

The paper edition of the ‘Culinary Map’ has already been published, supplemented with a book of recipes. The gastinia.by interactive portal, devoted to the project, is about to be launched. Anyone will be able to use it to study a virtual menu; the places where Belarusian national dishes are offered will be marked. We’ve also developed branding for the map, the crossed spoon and fork are its logo; framed with a traditional Belarusian style decoration. The mobile application will be continually updated with new recipes.

Will the Culinary Map reflect the existing collections of national culinary recipes? It’s possible to find master classes on cooking any dish on the Internet…

It’s only possible to feel the charm of authentic dishes in villages where the original traditions of Belarusian cuisine and its unique taste have been preserved. It’s great however, that collections of recipes are available. I think you’d agree: it’s virtually impossible to cook a traditional dish without knowing all its authentic secrets. Cooking can become a theatrical show for the experts: on seeing them work, you are part of a special experience and can feel as if you’ve travelled back in time.

The authors of the Culinary Map had to visit several hundred homes, taking part in master classes and taste tests. Almost ten years were spent collecting these unique recipes. What are the top ten dishes? 

There are many more ‘pearls’ of Belarusian cuisine. For example, the Martsinova Gus homestead offers kolduny cooked using Duke Tyshkevich’s recipe. In my view, pies with kulaga (berry jelly) cooked by Alla Polikarpuk (from Na Zarechnoy Ulitse homestead, Kobrin District’s Peski village) are the best in Belarus. A homestead in the Korelichi District offers a unique dish: cold soup from common borage and birch kvass. In the Braslav District, gulbishki enjoy a special popularity among gourmets. I can assure you that each host boasts their own collection of unique recipes. 

The Culinary Map is the single guide of its kind so far. Who would be able to add their portfolio to it?

A national cuisine is a layer of a nation’s culture. A great deal of work lies ahead in this field and we are happy to co-operate with hosts and also cafes and restaurants which cook traditional Belarusian dishes. They can be included on the Culinary Map’ free of charge but their dishes must be unique, not merely an olive salad. We welcome authentic dishes which boast their own legends and history. Experienced cooks are well aware that a dish tastes better and sells well if it boasts its own history. We also believe that the Culinary Map’ will become a gastronomic reference book for foreign and domestic gourmands in the course of time. 

By Oksana Zakharova
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