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Local dishes as attractions

Unusual dishes — such as butter ram and rye bread from the Glubokoe District — recognised as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Belarus
By Daria Kurilova

A recent meeting of the Scientific and Methodological Council for Historical and Cultural Heritage had added the two unique culinary creations to the recognised legacy of Belarus, helping ensure their preservation.

Teresa Strui and her daughter, Marina Khrol, from the village of Matyukovo, have been cooking butter ram for celebratory events for many years. Homemade salted butter is used to form the shape of a ram with horns and curly wool, explains the Director of the Vitebsk Regional Methodological Centre for Folk Art, Yekaterina Labuko. The ‘sculpture’ can decorate any holiday table but lasts for some time, allowing it to be enjoyed for weeks. Traditionally, the ram is eaten from its tail forwards.  The wonderful art of butter shaping is known throughout the Glubokoe District, and the ladies often receive orders for weddings, baptisms and for Easter parties — from far and wide.

Another tradition is associated with baking rye bread, explains Stepanida Lupach, from the village of Derkovshchina. She bakes various rye breads, in the shape of maple leaves, adding bacon for flavour, ‘early-maturing’ and special to take on the road. Moreover, she’s happy to share her experience with local school students and those attending arts and crafts classes at the House of Crafts.

According to Ms. Labuko, the Glubokoe authorities hope that their traditional dishes will attract visitors to the region. It’s planned to build a hut with a furnace for baking rye bread. Butter rams will also be made there, allowing guests to watch first hand.

The Vitebsk Region already boasts intangible cultural heritage treasures — such as the Christmas game of ‘Tereshka’s Wedding’, from the Lepel District. Vitebsk is rich in cultural traditions, with over a dozen ceremonies, crafts, and dishes already recognised on the list of intangible cultural heritage. Another four items are soon to be presented to the Scientific and Methodological Council: openwork weaving, felt making, the wedding horned round loaf and another national dish.

Belarus was one of the first countries to sign a UNESCO convention safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, in 2003. Our country is also a member of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Since 2005, Belarus has worked hard to identify aspects of its intangible cultural heritage. The ‘Kolyady Tsars’ ritual, performed during the celebration of Christmas and New Year in the village of Semezhevo in the Minsk Region, was the first to be recognised.

Belarus now has a single state list of over 60 historical and cultural treasures: material and intangible.
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