Motol Delicacies Festival held for the seventh time in Ivanovo District.
Despite the burning sun, Brest Region’s tastiest event gathered thousands of guests to the ancient village of Motol for two days. Each cook was eager to share their best recipes, with every secret find-ing its way into their bowls and pots of Polesie cuisine. Clearly, they wished not only to impress tourists but each other.
Faced with so many choices, it’s no easy task to select what you should sample first. However, I have to say that Motol chorba is one of my favourites: a hearty soup of boiled heart, kidney, lungs and liver, with sautéed vegetables. The local round loaf comes a close second, followed by doughnuts. Other ‘worthy’ dishes include pot-baked buckwheat and couscous, potato ‘babka’ with bacon, tasty draniki with kidney beans, stewed beans with onion and carrot, home-made sausages, smoked pike, cheeses, and meat delicacies. Some are made to kosher requirements, as of old (a traditional Jewish style of preparation).
At first sight, all might look ordinary but each dish uses organic ingredients and is served in the won-derful Motol-style. Those coming to the festival can hardly believe their eyes. Russia’s Irina Volkova — who was staying with relatives in Drogichin District — admitted, “It’s incredible that such delicacies are cooked in a village.”
Motol attracts businessmen too. The village has only 4,000 residents but several production facilities, in addition to 67 registered entrepreneurs and around 40 private shops. Local people are convinced that this business spirit dates from the days of Bona Sforza, the wife of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s Duke, Sigismund I the Old. Motol received the Magdeburg Right in 1555 and the Italian’s residence in the area attracted many skilled craftsmen and merchants. Various family names in Motol — such as Polto — are of Italian origin. Meanwhile, the locally popular name of Kuzer has German roots. Others are Shikolay, Minuyk and Kashtelyan.
Motol is now firmly on Belarus’ tourist map, owing to its cuisine, believes the Chair of the Country Es-cape Agro- and Eco-tourism Public Association, Valeria Klitsounova. She notes, “It’s fashionable to have an interest in food and cooking, and gastro-tourism particularly brings people to food festivals. In particular, people like to watch live demonstrations of food preparation.” Ms. Klitsounova has pro-posed that agro-mansion hosts share their recipes, creating a Belarusian gastronomic map and encour-aging patriotic feelings towards traditional dishes.
Neighbours of the Motol villagers have opened a house of bacon at the festival, with hosts from Odri-zhin (in Ivanovo District) making sandwiches of seemingly incompatible ingredients, such as bacon, on-ion and olives. Cheese makers from Priyaseldny agricultural company (located in the village of Psyshchevo) have proven successful with their cheese pies, baskets of ‘cheese-mushrooms’ and clev-er cheese hedgehogs! They use milled linen seed — known as ‘makukha’ — from Bezdezh (in Drogichin District).
The first Motol Delicacies Festival won the Teach Belarus Republican Tourist Contest’s ‘Event’ nomina-tion. This year’s (seventh) festival has officially been named as international and the local wedding round loaf tradition has gained the status of being a Belarusian intangible historical-cultural treasure.
In addition to food, those festive days in Motol gather craftsmen from all over the country. Their clay, wood, linen and straw articles always enjoy demand. Moreover, Motol offers several interesting sites for visitors: the local museum of folk crafts (which celebrated its 20th jubilee on August 8th); an ar-chaeological (Our Roots) museum; a museum of folk medicine (a Herbalist’s House); and the museum-house of Chaim Weizmann who founded the state of Israel. The local Motol Neighbours folk group celebrates the round loaf tradition with Jewish dishes, dancing and songs: all in the local dialect. These attractions are deserving of a separate article...
By Valentina Kozlovich