Ukraine's fattiest treat gets trendy makeover

Ukraine's national dish of pork fat is a dense, white, chewy treat that can become an acquired taste. But a new restaurant transforms the traditional dish, moulding it into kitsch edible sculptures and even "sushi".

Pork fat is "a cult dish and we decided to turn it into a cult art object," the co-owner of the restaurant, Mark Zarkhin, told AFP.

Known as salo in Ukrainian, the pork fat comes in numerous varieties, ranging from smoked to streaky to pure white blubber. It is often sprinkled with paprika and washed down with a shot of vodka.

Named simply "Salo," Zarkhin's restaurant opened in June in the western city of Lviv and also markets itself as a museum of the lardy delicacy.

On the menu are kitsch offerings including a copy of the penis of Michelangelo's David, stuffed with potato dumplings, and an anatomically accurate "Van Gogh's Ear".

There is even a local version of Japanese sushi - ubiquitous in Ukraine's trendy restaurants - made from smoked pork fat.

Zarkhin, a businessman, says the restaurant mildly mocks the national love for salo. "We are being ironic about ourselves and about our tastes," he said.

But he himself raves about the food's versatility, insisting that it can be much more than a savoury snack.

"People think of salo as either salty or smoked. They can hardly believe that this food can be more like cream. You add some ginger and cinnamon and it becomes a wonderful filling for chocolates," he enthused.

- 'Our chefs were baffled' -

The menu even offers desserts of whipped pork fat dipped in chocolate and a frozen "ice cream" dish based on actress Marilyn Monroe's famous pout, called "Monroe's Lips".

The restaurant is aimed more at tourists than locals in the country's poorer western region. Prices go up to 200 hryvnas ($25, 17 euros) for the most expensive dish, David's penis, which serves three.

The interior is scattered with objets d'art made from pork fat, including a model of a human heart, complete with a motor to simulate its beating - but without the blocked arteries likely to ensue from over-indulgence.

Visitors were enthusiastic about the restaurant.

"Wow, this is amazing," said Maria Alexeyeva, who was visiting from Kiev with her sister Anna. "It's very good and the interior is really cute. There's nothing like this in Kiev."

Zarkhin opened the restaurant together with a German artist of Ukrainian origin, Boris Berger, who came up with the idea.

"At the start, we weren't sure this could be done," he said. "Our chefs were also baffled... but after three months of reflection, we finally got there."

He is keen for the restaurant to become known as a gallery and has invited a series of artists to create sculptures from pork fat.

"Pork fat is a new material for art. Yes, it doesn't last long, but neither does ice, and it is used for sculptures all over the world," he argued.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral