EuroTribe

your guide to Europe off the beaten path

A Brief History of Whirling Dervishes (And Where To See Them)

Although Turkey is a vibrant land of impressive cultural heritage, one phenomenon stands out from the rest. It captures the attention of tourists and believers from the entire world, but…

Although Turkey is a vibrant land of impressive cultural heritage, one phenomenon stands out from the rest. It captures the attention of tourists and believers from the entire world, but it’s equally interesting to locals. It’s hypnotic, unusual and, in a way, calming. Yes, we are talking about the whirling dervishes.

Their authentic dance is a mixture of meditation and a religious ritual. In the text below, we will unpack everything, starting with what the word dervish means to this specific ceremony. At the very end, we’ll show you where you can witness it yourself. Continue reading for a captivating story!

Who are they?

To fully appreciate it, you should understand a thing or two about this spectacle. First of all, let’s start by defining the term dervish in the most simple way possible.

A dervish or a darwish is a type of Sufi (Sufi being a person who practices Sufism). Sufism is a mystical form of Islam which focuses on the inward search for God. It accentuates the personal, spiritual connection with God and self-improvement through various rituals and practices.

Although Sufism is present in many Islamic countries, Turkey is known for the Mevlevi Order of Sufis and their whirling. The order was formed in the 13th century and it still exists to this day.

The members, known as whirling dervishes, are all followers of the very famous Persian poet Rumi. It is believed that he created their well-known traditional ritual called Sama or Sema. The proof is that some references to it have been found in his poetry!

The Whirling Dervishes Ritual – Basics

Sama is one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It includes music, prayer, various stunts, and their signature spinning.

The point of the ritual is reaching spiritual perfection and maturity through hypnotic states and trances. The goal is to abandon your ego completely, disconnect from your earthly possessions and focus solely on love and God. The trances are the culmination of the practice and they can last up to several hours!

via GIPHY

Sometimes, the trances are so deep that the dervishes go through unimaginable physical and mental strain almost effortlessly. It’s not rare that they pierce their cheeks and throats with large needles without feeling a thing!

The ritual is very precise and well planned and that’s why there are always exactly four stages of it. They are packed with symbolism relating to Islam, the power of God and the gift of life.

The Phases of the Ritual

If you decide to witness one of these rituals, you should be introduced to its phases. It will help you notice their switches and really understand their significance.

The first phase is called Naat and Taksim. During this part, a solo singer recites or sings the Noble Eulogy, which praises the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. This part is followed with a solo improvisation played on the ney (a flute heavily used in Middle Eastern music).

During the second segment, Devr-i Veled, dervishes walk counterclockwise around the sheikh (the ritual leader) three times. They then bow to each other and remove their dark cloaks which mark their earthly life.

The third portion is known as The Four Selams. This is where the magic actually happens. Pay attention to the position of their body – it is not accidental! Their right palm is turned upwards, towards God’s blessings, while the left one is facing the Earth, distributing those blessings.

The first Selam describes humans accepting that they are creatures of God. Then, the second one celebrates the rapture of humans when they witness and experience God’s omnipotence.

The third symbolizes complete surrender and submission to God and his power and love.

Finally, during the fourth Selam, the sheikh joins in and the dervishes descend back to the Earth to continue serving.

The fourth and final part of the ceremony is the reading of the Qu’ran and a prayer led by the sheikh.

Why spinning?

There’s a clear answer to that.

If you think about it, the continual movement is the natural state of things in the universe. The planets of the Solar system revolve around the Sun, atoms and their components move without stopping, etc. Therefore, the dervishes chose their whirling and dancing as a crucial part of the ritual. They view it as moving in complete harmony with all dynamic things created by God.

The Clothing and Its Symbolism

The practitioners’ outfits are also a very important part of the Sama. They wear long white robes that end in skirts and they symbolize the ego’s shrouds. Over that, they have dark cloaks which, as you remember, represent the earthly life, which is why they’re removed during the ceremony.

They also wear tall dark hats, which are viewed as tombstones of their egos.

Besides being a religious ritual, the whirling dervishes show is a very popular tourist attraction. Witnessing it is an entertaining, mind-blowing experience, but remember: be respectful and never applaud during the ceremony!

Whirling Dervishes Istanbul

Now that we’ve explored this fascinating practice, here are some suggestions on where you can enjoy it. Istanbul is one of the best places on Earth to see whirling dervishes and here are the exact places where you can do that.

Galata Mevlevihanesi

This is one of the most popular spots for whirling dervishes ceremonies. You can enjoy the show each Sunday at 5pm, but you can’t buy tickets before Saturday. Therefore, there’s a chance you won’t be able to get in. If you do, though, you will be in awe of their performance!

Address: Şahkulu Mah. Galip Dede Caddesi No: 15 Tünel PK:34420 Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Hodjapasha Cultural Center

In case you miss the Sunday show, the Hodjapasha Cultural Center has them each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7pm. You can also visit one of their exhibitions dedicated to whirling dervishes.

Address: Ankara Caddesi Hocapaşa Hamamı Sok No: 3.B;
Sirkeci/İstanbul

Yenikapi Mevlevi Lodge

If you’re on a budget, this is one of the places where the entrance is free of charge! The rituals are held on the first and the third Thursday of the month, as well as the last Friday. However, you must call them in advance to make a reservation. You can ask your hotel or a host do it for you.

Address: Merkezefendi Mah. Fatih Sultan Mehmet Üniversite Kampüsü, 34015 Zeytinburnu/İstanbul

If you’re ready to explore more of Turkey, here are five must have adventures.

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The Best Bike Locks You Can Get On a Budget

If you plan to go on a cycling trip ordering a bike lock will be the first and most important step towards protecting your bicycle. If you’re hunting for the…

If you plan to go on a cycling trip ordering a bike lock will be the first and most important step towards protecting your bicycle. If you’re hunting for the best cheap bike lock look no more. Here’s a list of the best bike locks you can get on a budget.

PAW 2019 Foldable Bike Lock With 2 Keys

ROCKBROS Mini Portable Password Bike

INBIKE Anti-Theft Bike Lock

Universal stainless steel anti-theft bike lock

Universal anti-theft bike lock with 2 keys

INBIKE Bike Lock 0.85m Waterproof with 3 keys

Bike Lock with 5 Digit Code Combination

Anti-Theft 5 Digit Combination Password Chain Lock

INBIKE Bike lock for MTB Road Bikes

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The Ultimate Cruise Packing List For a Relaxing Holiday

Cruises can be some of the most enjoyable trips you’ll ever take. The feeling of trusting someone with the complete organization of your travel, while always being at sea is…

Cruises can be some of the most enjoyable trips you’ll ever take. The feeling of trusting someone with the complete organization of your travel, while always being at sea is incredibly liberating.

You can spend the day lounging in a deckchair or, perhaps, taking part in some activities. The fresh scent of sea air and sunshine will work their magic!

If you’ve picked a good cruise operator, you’ll be able to dedicate all your time to self-care and relaxation. Basically, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is packing ahead of the trip.

Although it sounds easy, sometimes it’s tricky to determine what you actually need and what is simply excess baggage.

We’ve prepared a very useful guide for all of you that plan on going on a cruise any time soon. This cruise packing list will help eliminate any trouble you might have while preparing for your voyage.

The first thing you must know is how much baggage you’re allowed to take. Usually, you’re allowed to bring two large suitcases (23 kg each), but rules do vary. Pack all the essential things in your carry on bag and follow our list of categories below!

Basics

Travel Documents

The first and most important thing on your cruise packing list are your travel documents. Make sure your passport and visas (if you need them) are in your purse or your pocket. It’s good to make copies of them, too. Although everyone knows it’s the one thing you can’t leave without, it often happens that people end up forgetting them.

Money

Also, bring your wallet, but don’t carry all your cash inside it. Always keep your money in more than one place! That way, if you end up losing it or being robbed, you won’t be penniless.

Prescription Medications

If you’re taking any prescription medications, bring them along. Also, don’t forget the earplugs! All this could be part of a first-aid kit (more on that below).

Electronics

In this day and age, it is very important to charge all your electronics. Therefore, bring your cellphone charger, as well as any other charger you might need. Although vacation is the perfect opportunity to limit screen time, we all love taking photos, so chargers are a must! Check this list of 50 fantastic travel products under $20

Print Your Travel Packing List

At last, definitely write down or print your cruise packing list. Having everything on a piece of paper will help with the planning!

Summary: documents (+copies), money, medications, chargers, cruise packing list

Clothes

You probably already know the first thing on this list – bathing suits! Yes, plural, since it’s better to have at least one spare swimsuit, while the other one is drying. Many boats have their own pools, while some cruise operators have swimming in the ocean as part of their program.

Other than that, make sure that you pack some lightweight and comfortable clothing. You are on vacation, after all! So, bring a couple of t-shirts, dresses, a pair or two of comfortable pants (depending on the duration of the cruise).

If you like dressing up for dinner or certain events, pack a formal outfit. However, don’t bring too many options, since you won’t end up wearing them and they’ll just take up space. Sometimes, some cruise events require formal wear, so check with your cruise agent in advance.

Another thing to remember is to not bring your most expensive clothes and jewelry. It’s just too much of a responsibility and cruises are all about winding down. 

Make sure you pack a jacket or a few sweaters, because the nights at sea can get very chilly. Even if it’s the middle of August, you must have something to throw over your shoulders. A rain jacket would be a perfect choice!

Your cruise packing list should also include underwear and pajamas (so, bras, panties, pajamas and socks). You should get a robe when you get to your room, but make sure to check. There’s nothing better than those lazy bathrobe vacation coffees. 

Summary: a few t-shirts, some dresses, a pair of pants, rain jacket, underwear, pajamas

Shoes

It’s crucial that you pack a pair of comfortable shoes that you can walk in for long periods of time. Some sneakers or running shoes are your best option, so consider perhaps packing multiple pairs.

Flip flops are necessary, no matter what type of a cruise you’re on. Wear them on the beach, on the pool, or just getting out of the shower. They also don’t take up a lot of space. 

If you have some extra space, pack the shoes you’d like to wear on special occasions and when going out. You are on vacation, after all!

Summary: comfortable shoes, flip flops

Toiletries

Although most things will be provided, you should still pack a cosmetics case. Bring your toothbrush, dental floss and anything else that’s a part of your dental hygiene routine. Speaking of hygiene, put deodorant on your cruise packing list. 

Also, don’t forget about skincare. Travelling can be rough on the skin, so bring some type of a face cleanser and moisturizer. Most importantly, pack some sunscreen. Sunburns could potentially ruin your vacation, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Bonus tip: bring some kind of insect repellent!

Summary: toothbrush, deodorant, face cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, insect repellent

Miscellaneous

If you’re travelling to a warm location, definitely pack a hat and some sunglasses. If you have room, pack a small umbrella as well.

Bring a scarf, since you’ll most likely need it. Some places you’ll visit will require you to cover your shoulders or you might just get cold.

Although you’ll spend most of your time enjoying the sights or activities, you’ll definitely have time for a good book. However, don’t bring too many, and, if you have a Kindle, just pack that!

Summary: hat, sunglasses, umbrella, scarf, book

First-aid kit

Last but not least, make a small travel first-aid kit. Pack some motion sickness meds, painkillers and bandages. Probiotics could help with digestive issues many people face while travelling, so bringing some would be a good idea.

Your prescription medication should be in your carry on or your purse. Make sure you don’t accidentally put it in your checked luggage. Once again – have your cruise packing list on paper!

Summary: motion sickness medication, painkillers, bandages, probiotics

So that’s it! You can make a cruise packing pdf list out of this blog post and bring it with you! Happy vacationing! But, if you haven’t made a choice yet, here are best cruises to take this year!

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The Best of Icelandic Cuisine: 15+ Dishes You Must Try

Iceland, “the land of fire and ice”, is famous for its many natural beauties. Most tourists visit so they could see its stunning volcanoes and lagoons from which you can…

Iceland, “the land of fire and ice”, is famous for its many natural beauties. Most tourists visit so they could see its stunning volcanoes and lagoons from which you can see the Aurora Borealis. Along with the untouched nature, Iceland’s greatest treasures are its friendly, warm people and their hospitality.

However, Icelandic cuisine is not as well known as some others in Europe. That’s why many foreigners have a problem when it comes to picking what to eat once they’re in Iceland. If you’d like to explore the most famous dishes and get to know the eating habits of Icelanders, continue reading!

Although fish and other seafood are very common ingredients, Icelandic cuisine is much more diverse. It’s also based on lamb, dairy and delicious mouth-watering pastries and bread.

Here’s an overview of the things that the majority of Icelanders enjoy eating:

Icelandic Breakfast

Many Icelanders have the habit of eating breakfast at home. Although it keeps becoming more common to grab something on the go, they prefer preparing breakfast in their own kitchens.

One of the most common dishes is hafragrautur. The more simple and well-known translation would be – oatmeal! Icelanders usually sprinkle it with brown sugar and raisins and prepare it with fresh milk.

Another frequent option is skyr, a traditional dairy product. Although it has the consistency and appearance of Greek yogurt, technically, it is considered cheese. It can be eaten plain, but also with fruit, sugar or mixed into oatmeal. It’s a must!

You should know that Iceland is full of amazing bakeries that prepare fresh goods in the early morning hours. Some of the most famous dishes are kleina (donut-like pastry), fresh sourdough bread and sandwiches with smoked salmon or herring.

Iceland is famous for its very high consumption of coffee, so you should definitely enjoy a cup while you’re here. What better time than breakfast? If you’re not a coffee drinker, try the Icelandic moss tea!

Icelandic Lunch

Lunch is often served in the form of smörgåsbord – a Scandinavian buffet that serves both hot and cold dishes. Many restaurants offer this buffet, although you can also order à la carte.

Cold fish dishes are always available on the buffet, such as harðfiskur (wind-dried fish) and hákarl (fermented Greenland shark). These can also be consumed as snacks, between meals.

Be careful with the fermented shark – it has a strong taste that won’t appeal to everyone. Some absolutely love it and some hate it. The famous chef Anthony Bourdain called it “the worst thing he had ever tried”.

Icelanders often eat warm, hearty soups for lunch, as well. The traditional ones are the fish soup (fiskisúpa), meat soup (kjötsúpa) and langoustine soup (humarsúpa). You’ll find them in every restaurant and they are often the cheapest meals on the menu.

If you’re on the go, grab a hot dog. Although they’re not originally a product of Icelandic cuisine, they are incredibly delicious here. The key is in the toppings, which include crunchy fried onions and brown mustard.

Another great Icelandic version of a popular foreign specialty is fish and chips. The locally caught fish (usually cod, salmon or haddock) is fresh and full of flavor. Also, some of the dips are made with the Icelandic skyr, which gives it a unique taste.

Icelandic Dinner

Just like in many western countries, dinner is the main meal of the day for Icelanders. Icelandic cuisine offers a variety of authentic specialties that you must taste at least once while you’re there!

The star of Icelandic cuisine, besides seafood, is the lamb. The Icelandic sheep is a local breed that is grass fed and not given any hormones, which guarantees great quality meat. The lamb is usually slow cooked or roasted, although it can be made into a stew as well.

They also eat some parts of the sheep that aren’t commonly eaten, like the head. It is a great delicacy in Iceland, especially when it’s smoked. If you want to try some of the more controversial specialties you can start with this one.

When it comes to seafood, there are different ways to prepare it. It is either boiled, grilled or fried. You should try the freshwater trout (silungur), Arctic char (bleikja) and monkfish (skötuselur), as well as shrimp (rækja) and blue mussels (kræklingur). All are beyond delicious!

Icelandic Desserts

Although Icelandic cuisine features rather healthy food, Icelanders have quite of a sweet tooth! They have many traditional desserts, some similar to other Scandinavian sweets, but with a unique twist.

Snúður is essentially a cinnamon bun topped with melted chocolate or caramel. Eat it alone or with a cup of coffee, as true Icelanders would!

Pönnukökur and rúgbrauðsís are some of the most famous desserts in Iceland. Pönnukökur are Icelandic pancakes topped with sugar, similar to French crepes. On the other hand, our recommendation is rúgbrauðsís – rye bread ice cream, available only in Cafe Loki in Reykjavik!

Vegetarian Food in Iceland

Although it might seem like fish and meat are impossible to avoid, that’s not the case. There are plenty of vegetarian options that are just as delicious and filling.

For starters, skyr should be on your list, whether you’re vegetarian or not. You can customize it by adding different toppings, sweet or savory, or by adding it to salads or veggie dishes. It’s very refreshing and quite healthy.

Many restaurants have vegetarian and vegan menus. Vegetables can be rather expensive in supermarkets, so sometimes eating out won’t cost much more than preparing veggies at home.

Make sure you take advantage of the country’s amazing whole wheat bread. It’s vegan and incredibly delicious.

Icelandic Food Recipes

If you’re going through post-travel nostalgia, you should consider making some Icelandic cuisine gems in your own kitchen! Except for some exotic ingredients, you can find most of them in large grocery stores pretty much anywhere. Have fun recreating the most authentic food from this beautiful country.

Click here for recipes of some of the most delicious Icelandic specialties.

 

 

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EHIC After Brexit: What You Need to Know

With the UK’s eventual departure from the European Union looming large, travellers on both sides of the Channel will no doubt be asking – will I soon need to buy…

With the UK’s eventual departure from the European Union looming large, travellers on both sides of the Channel will no doubt be asking – will I soon need to buy travel insurance for trips from the UK to continental Europe, and vice versa?

The reason this question is being raised is because ‘Brexit’ could well mean the UK leaves the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, which guarantees card holders free or subsidised access to state-provided healthcare wherever they travel in the European Economic Area (EEC), plus Switzerland.

With the EHIC no longer valid in the UK and no longer available to its citizens, the assumption is that travellers from Europe to the UK, and from the UK to Europe, would need travel insurance to cover any potential medical costs.

While this is true, it is wrong to think of the EHIC and travel insurance as either-or options. As things stand, travellers should carry both. The EHIC is a scheme for medical costs only. Travel insurance, whilst it includes medical cover, also protects you for a variety of other things, such as loss or theft of personal belongings and luggage, delays and cancellations to flights and other pre-arranged transport and so on.

It is also a common misapprehension that the EHIC entitles you to free healthcare. It does not, because every country in the scheme does not offer free care to its own citizens. If you travel to a country where all medical treatment is paid for, you have to pay too, regardless of carrying a EHIC card, although it is likely to be at a heavily subsidised rate. But the fact you have to pay at all is another reason why you need travel insurance as well.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Standard travel insurance medical cover is not as comprehensive as the EHIC. If you have a pre-existing medical issue, you need to be aware that travel insurance policies do not automatically cover you for treatments related to your condition. This is different to the EHIC, which covers all forms of medical assistance, whether general or specific, whether an emergency or just a check-up.

For example, if you have a lung or a heart condition and suddenly symptoms flare up while abroad, the EHIC means you can be rushed to hospital and will only be charged the domestic rate – nothing, in some countries. The same applies if you just want to visit a doctor for a once-over or a new prescription. Travel insurance, on the other hand, is designed mainly to cover general illness, accidents and emergencies. Standard policies will not pay out on treatment for specific conditions.

This is something to be aware of if you suffer from a long-standing illness and have been used to relying on the EHIC, if and when it is no longer used in the UK. To get adequate protection, you will need to source a bespoke travel insurance policy that includes your condition in its medical schedule. There are many specialist providers out there who cater for people with pre-exisiting conditions, who offer good value and comprehensive protection for your specific needs. Click here to find out more.

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14 Ukrainian Dishes You Must Try

Ukraine is one of Eastern Europe’s greatest treasures. This country has a long and rich history and beautiful landmarks, which guarantees for an exciting trip! They say that the best…

Ukraine is one of Eastern Europe’s greatest treasures. This country has a long and rich history and beautiful landmarks, which guarantees for an exciting trip!

They say that the best way to learn about a country is to see it through the perspective of locals. You should visit their favorite cafes, learn about their customs and put yourself in their shoes.

One of the ways to do that is to try the traditional food that they grew up with.

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe and it has a well developed agriculture. Its many plains allow locals to grow their own food and use fresh ingredients in their diet. If you’re a lover of real, organic food, Ukraine is the right place for you!

Here’s a list of some of the best Ukrainian dishes to try on your next trip there!

Borscht

One of the most famous dishes in Ukraine is borscht. It has a very long tradition, so you could say they perfected it by now!

There’s over 30 types of this soup and they’re all based on vegetables, such as beets, cabbage and potatoes. Even though this is a great vegan dish, certain recipes include some type of meat or fish. It will give you such a warm, homey feeling that you’ll feel like you’re in your grandma’s dining room!

Kholodet

This is the dish that you’ll surely try if you spend New Year’s Eve in an Ukrainian restaurant. They traditionally serve it as an appetizer on this holiday. It’s essentially a jelly pudding made with fish or meat stock and various vegetables. The texture might be something you’ll have to get used to, but every foodie must try it!

Piroshki

Ukrainians are the best when it comes to specialties made with dough! One of them are, without a doubt, piroshki. Piroshki are buns usually filled with meat, vegetables or cheese and often served with sour cream. They can either be fried or baked but both are equally as good. These are a perfect breakfast on-the-go, as well as a filling lunch – the choice is yours!

Salo

Here’s a combination you’ve probably never tried before – pork lard, rye bread and herbs. Besides being full of vitamins, pork lard (salo) has a surprisingly rich flavor. You can choose your toppings based on your preferences. If you combine salo with onions you’ll recreate an old-school Ukrainian appetizer!

Deruny

These potato pancakes are your ideal breakfast food! Made with grated potatoes, eggs and onions, they’re a perfect combination of rich and crunchy. However, eating them as a side for lunch is not unusual. Ukrainians often top them with sour cream or mushroom sauce. You can’t go wrong with potatoes!

Chicken Kiev

The dish that carries the name of the Ukrainian capital just has to be exceptional. Even though at first sight it might seem like chicken you’ve eaten before, the key is in the method of preparation.

Chicken breast is rolled around cold butter first and then covered with eggs and bread crumbs. Chicken Kiev can also be stuffed, but sometimes, the simple recipe is best.
You can try this dish in various restaurants around the world, but trying it in Ukraine is something else!

Kovbasa

Kovbasa is Ukrainian homemade sausage. Many families that live in villages still make their own kovbasa, with organic chicken or pork. Besides meat, it is prepared with fats and spices that give it a wonderful aroma. It is so much better than store bought sausages.

Nalesniki

If you thought good crepes only existed in France, you were so wrong! Ukrainians have their own version and they are absolutely delicious. They can be filled with some type of cheese or even minced meat. They’re best when eaten fresh with sour cream on the side. The sweet ones are filled with fruit jam or a unique traditional combination – cottage cheese and raisins.

Varenyky

Varenyky are Ukrainian dumplings made with various fillings: ground meat, mashed potatoes, fried sauerkraut and many more.  They’re often served as a part of Christmas Eve dinner. The sweet version of varenyky is filled with fruit and drenched in butter. Make sure you try both!

Bread

Even though it’s not a dish, you mustn’t leave Ukraine without trying their bread. It’s deeply rooted in their culture, hence the traditional form of showing hospitality by giving your guests bread and salt.

Ukrainians are famous for their crops, especially rye, barley and buckwheat. They put so much love in the process of making bread and we guarantee that Ukrainian bread will be among the best you’ve ever tried!

Solyanka

This is another thick hearty soup Ukrainians love. There are three kinds of solyanka, depending on what you choose as your main ingredient – meat, fish or mushrooms.
If you choose meat, you can also add sausages, pickles, onions, capers and many other ingredients.

The one with mushrooms is baked in the oven after cooking and covered with breadcrumbs.

Fish solyanka has a fresh taste thanks to the lemon juice that’s added at the end.

Pampushky

If you love doughnuts, you’ll love pampushky. They’re little balls of dough filled with berries, rose preserve or poppy seeds and topped with powdered sugar. If you’re eating borscht, it will sometimes be served with savoury pampushky and garlic sauce on the side. These will make your mouth water.

Kutia

Ukrainians have been eating kutia since the prehistoric times. It’s a mix of wheatberries, poppy seeds and honey, and sometimes nuts. It is always served during Christmas dinner. However, you can still eat it for breakfast or as a dessert after your meal. Not only is it tasty but very healthy as well.

Golubtsi

Golubtsi are just plain delicious! They’re sauerkraut rolls filled with minced meat and rice. Of course, Ukrainians add various spices and herbs.

The rolls are then either cooked or baked until the meat is done. Making golubtsi requires skills, so make sure you search for a good cook. They are worth the effort!

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