‘Budmo!’: Cookbook is a love letter to people and food of Ukraine

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Michell Eloy

“I wanted to showcase our Ukrainian food culture, and celebrate it, and say that we are not Russia,” says Anna Voloshyna. Courtesy of Anna Voloshyna.

When Anna Voloshyna finished writing her first book about Ukrainian food and cooking late last year, Russia had not yet invaded her home country. Her family hadn’t been forced to flee their home in Southern Ukraine. And her book was meant to be a celebration of the Eastern European food she grew up with. Now in the light of what’s happened in the country, the book reads as a kind of resistance to Russian propaganda denying Ukrainian statehood and a testament to its distinct identity and traditions. The book is called “Budmo!: Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen,” and it includes classic Ukrainian recipes and new takes on traditional dishes. 

Voloshyna says the direct translation of “budmo” is “let us be,” and it’s often used instead of cheers. 

“It means ‘Let us be healthy. Let us be together, let us be present in this moment.’ And it means a celebration. So this book means to celebrate Ukrainian cuisine and to translate the spirit of cheerful happiness. ... It's very common in Ukraine. We love our guests, and we love feeding our people.” 

She adds that her cookbook helps showcase the different cultures in Ukraine.

“I wanted to celebrate all the countries. But at the same time, I wanted to showcase our Ukrainian food culture and celebrate it and say that we are not Russia. Ukraine is not, not Russia. And I was so tired of telling this to people, because a lot of people didn't know about Ukraine,” Voloshyna says. “They said, ‘Oh, you speak Russian. That means you're Russia.’ I'm like, ‘No, we speak Russian. But our first language is Ukrainian.’ And we are very, very different.’”

She adds, “I'm very happy that the world can see this right now through horrible, horrible war, which breaks my heart. But now everybody knows what is Ukraine and how amazing our people are.”

Mom’s famous spicy and sour tomatoes 
Serves 8
Makes one 2-quart jar  

“These might be the most delicious pickled tomatoes you will have ever tasted, it will be hard to wait the three days they need to sit before trying one,” Anna Voloshyna writes about her mom’s famous spicy and sour tomatoes. Courtesy of Anna Voloshyna.

These tomatoes are hands down the most popular zakuska I serve at my dinners. As you can guess from the name, these are another of my mom’s creations. They are very different from traditional pickled tomatoes, which typically call for a vinegary pickling liquid. My mom immerses her tomatoes in a thick, spicy sauce made from fresh herbs, chile, oil, and vinegar. This incredible mixture makes the tomatoes wonderfully refreshing, with a bright pop of acid and a flavor riot of herbs and garlic. I have to warn you, however, that because these might be the most delicious pickled tomatoes you will have ever tasted, it will be hard to wait the three days they need to sit before trying one. I have personally witnessed diners at my pop-ups drinking the leftover pickling liquid once the tomatoes have been wiped out. 


  • 2 pounds small red tomatoes (such as Campari or Pearl), halved lengthwise 
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped 
  • 1 medium-size fresh jalapeño chile 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 1 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as dill, flat-leaf parsley, and cilantro) 
  • 1/3 cup sunflower or grapeseed oil 
  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt 


  1. Pack the tomato halves into a clean, widemouthed 2-quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. 
  2. To make the pickling marinade, in a food processor, combine the bell pepper, chile, garlic, herbs, oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt and pulse until a thick, slightly chunky mixture forms, about 30 seconds. Pour the marinade over the tomatoes and screw the lid on the jar. 
  3. Refrigerate for at least 3 days before serving. The tomatoes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Over time, they will develop even brighter acidity and more complex flavor of slightly fermented tomatoes. 



  • Anna Voloshyna - author of “Budmo!: Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen”