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Heart skips a beet: Ukrainian borscht added to UN endangered heritage list

The making of borscht in Ukraine has been added to the United Nations’ cultural agency’s list of endangered heritage because of Russia’s war.

The beetroot dish has been added to UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the goal of which is to raise awareness “in order to safeguard intangible cultural heritage whose viability is at risk despite the best efforts of the community or the State.”

UNESCO said “armed conflict has threatened the viability” of the dish, because “people not only cannot cook or grow local vegetables for borscht, but also cannot gather [to make the dish] … undermining the social and cultural well-being of communities.”

Ukraine considers borscht (the spelling of which varies depending on the country) to be a national dish, although it is very popular in Russia — in 2019, the Russian government tweeted that “borsch” is “one of Russia’s most famous and beloved dishes and a symbol of traditional cuisine” — as well as other ex-Soviet countries and Poland.

After Friday’s decision, Ukrainian Minister of Culture Tkachenko Oleksandr welcomed the decision on Twitter, saying: “Victory in the war for borscht is ours!”

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