Ukrainian Salo Day Date in the current year: August 27, 2024

Ukrainian Salo Day Salo is one of the most iconic dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, so it is not surprising that Ukrainians have a holiday dedicated to it, albeit an unofficial one. Ukrainian Salo Day is celebrated annually on August 27.

Salo, also called slanina in some Slavic languages, is a type of food that consists of cured slabs of fatback, with or without the skin (pork rind). The word “salo” is sometimes translated into English as “bacon” or “lard” but it’s a mistranslation because salo, bacon, and lard are three different types of food. Lard is rendered while salo is not, and bacon contains a considerable amount of lean meat while salo has little to no meat. Salo is commonly eaten in Eastern European countries, including Ukraine.

To make salo, slabs of fatback are cut into pieces, salted, cured in a wooden box or barrel, and then sometimes smoked. For better preservation and added flavor, minced garlic, black pepper, and other seasonings can be used in addition to salt. In Hungary, Romania, and some other countries salo may be treated with paprika, but it is uncommon in Ukraine, except maybe for parts of the country that border Romania and Hungary such as Odessa, Chernivtsi, and Zakarpattia Oblasts (regions).

In the past, salt-cured salo was a staple food in Ukrainian households because of its high nutritional value, as well as the ability to last long without refrigeration. The important role that salo used to play in the lives of Ukrainians is reflected in Ukrainian folklore, where salo is often associated with wealth and prosperity: “If I were a pan (wealthy man), I would eat salo with salo”, “I live well: I eat salo, I sleep on salo, I cover myself with salo”, etc.

Today, when more and more people are leaning toward a healthier lifestyle with a low-fat diet, salo is eaten as a traditional snack rather than a main dish. It is consumed both raw and cooked, typically as an appetizer or a condiment. Thinly sliced salo served on rye bread rubbed with garlic is a traditional accompaniment for horilka (Ukrainian vodka) and samohon (moonshine). Ukrainian borscht is also often served with salo, rye bread, and scallions or garlic. Small pieces of salo are added to some types of traditional Ukrainian sausage (kovbasa).

Salo can also be used to make lard and cracklings (shkvarky). Shkvarky are basically a by-product of rendering pork fat for cooking: salo is chopped into small pieces and fried, and shkvarky are what remains of salo once the fat is rendered. Shkvarky are typically used as a condiment for varenyky (Ukrainian version of pierogi), deruny (savory potato pancakes), fried or boiled potatoes, boiled buckwheat or millet (kasha), banosh (a type of cornmeal porridge), holubtsi (cabbage rolls), halushky (unfilled flour dumplings), and other traditional dishes.

The exact origins of Ukrainian Salo Day are unknown, but the holiday seems to be quite popular in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet. The best way to celebrate the holiday is, of course, to enjoy Ukrainian cuisine and have some salo on rye bread or borscht with salo.

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Ukrainian Salo Day, holidays in Ukraine, unofficial holidays, food days, Ukrainian cuisine