Series highlights culture and cuisine of Ukraine
YOUNGSTOWN — Ukraine was showcased Sunday afternoon as the Mahoning Valley Historical Society hosted its culture and cuisine series.
The event, rescheduled from April, took place at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cultural Center in Youngstown.
William Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, said the society’s cultural alliance advisory board, which includes members of the Mahoning Valley Cultural Alliance, came up with the series to celebrate the rich diversity of culture in the Valley. The series will continue throughout the year.
He said in addition to food, the series provides cultural enrichment with music, readings and historical information.
The Rev. Mykola Zomchak, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Youngstown, and the Rev. Lubomir Zyhbak, pastor of St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown and Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, spoke on the history and food of Ukraine, as well as what has been happening in Ukraine’s war with Russia.
Zomchak shared information on Ukrainian traditions and symbolism.
“I wanted to provide people with interesting facts and information on what Ukraine is like. Ukraine is a young and beautiful country with its own history that goes back many years,” he said.
Zyhbak said when people think of food of Ukraine, pierogies are usually the first item that comes to mind.
“The ‘pyrohies’ are like a trademark of Ukraine,” he said, using the Ukrainian spelling.
Other common foods from the culture are borscht (beet soup), haluski (cabbage and noodles) and stuffed cabbage.
George Beelen, retired Youngstown State University professor of history and former president and founder of the Ohio Cultural Alliance, said Ukraine has been a concern for many because of the turmoil its people have faced this past year.
“The people have faced a horrible war for more than a year,” he said.
A portion of the funds from the event will benefit the Ukrainian Relief Fund.
Thomas Pokabla of Liberty, who said he is Slovak, said he is always interested in news about Ukraine.
“We want to support Ukraine whatever way we can. I have donated money to the cause to help them,” he said.
Kathy Battisti of Youngstown, a member of SS. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said it was nice to see people from other denominations attend.
Rosanne Rosselli of Youngstown, a retired teacher, said she enjoys any program organized by the cultural alliance.
“It is fascinating what you learn,” she said.
Penny Wells of Boardman, a retired history teacher, said it is important to support the people of Ukraine and the struggles they have been facing.
“You feel for what the people of Ukraine have gone through,” she said.
Beelen said Romania, Africa and Greece were other countries featured in the culture and cuisine series.
Other programs are Aug. 7 on Italy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Hall in Youngstown; Oct. 2 on Africa at the Tyler History Center; and Nov. 13 on Greece at the St. Michael the Archangel social hall in Campbell.
Beelen said the Ohio Cultural Alliance merged with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society in 2019 to become the Mahoning Valley Cultural Alliance and work together on programs. He also wrote a book on the 30 years of the Ohio Cultural Alliance called “The Ohio Cultural Alliance: Genius Knows No Boundaries.”