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2012 Toronto Ukrainian Festival

27 Sep

Вітаємо / Welcome!

For the last three years my daughter and I make a point of attending Toronto Ukrainian Festival held in September on Bloor West, between Runnymede and Jane.  We always look forward to sampling traditional food, listening to live bands and people-watching.

Roasted whole pig.  We are pork eaters!

I love food and am open-minded while trying different foods however when it comes to traditional Ukrainian fare – varenyky, kapusta, borsch (by the way, it’s not “borscht”, there is no “t” in the “borsch”!), holybtsi, I become super-critical.    Let’s start with varenyky, a.k.a. perogi.  Canadians and some Ukrainian Canadians love the potato-cheddar cheese variety.  This variety is unheard of in Ukraine!  It has to be some crazy North American invention as cheddar cheese was not available  in Ukraine.  I lived there until 1993 and can assure you that nobody made those.

We like to visit different vendors and marvel at their displays.

Rushnyky (towels)

These are the traditional Ukrainian embroidered rushnyky (towels).  They are used to decorate religious icons, during wedding ceremonies or just to decorate a Ukrainian home.  They are also used as table runners, panels to make pillows or any other place that needs a little embroidery.

My family is from Bukovyna, a region in the Western Ukraine. This is a partial shot of the hand embroidered Bukovynian blouse.  We believe that this kind of embroidery is protecting against the bad spirits.  The blouse is heavy, up to 20lbs because of all the tiny beads that are sewn on it.  It’s not cheap, $600 CDN and I couldn’t it get it cheaper even in Ukraine.  My aunt make these blouses and they go for $500 US.

Keptar, a fur-trimmed Bukovynian vest

Me in my embroidered blouse, trying on a Bukovynian headpiece 🙂

Another traditional costume from a different region in Ukraine

My boyfriend joined me on Saturday and got to sample some Ukrainian beer:Brewed since 1715!

I don’t think he liked it too much so Lvivske Pyvo didn’t get his stamp of approval 🙂

My daughter and I participated in the vodka tasting.  We had to compare “Slava” to “Stolichnaya” and Zirkova” to “Absolut”.

Well, Ukrainian vodka won, hands down.  Absolut is too harsh and Stoli has this “chemical” aftertaste.   Zirkova has a clean, crisp taste and Slava trickles smoothly down the throat.

Interesting piece of trivia:

Canada has the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine.  Ukrainian Canadians represent the ninth largest ethnic group in the country.


“PLAY ME, I’M YOURS” – Toronto Edition

11 Jul

Play Me, I am Yours is in Toronto and it has a Pan Am flavour!

In 3 years from yesterday, Toronto will host 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The city is getting in the spirit of the Games by transforming second-hand donated pianos into works of art.  The 41 pianos represent 41 Pan American countries participating in the Games.  The 41 Toronto-based artists have been selected to decorate a piano showcasing the country of their origin.  These colourful instruments are placed in public locations throughout the City for everyone to play from July 11 to July 31.

One of the challenges the organizers had was to locate the artists. My talented boyfriend Oscar Patzan had been selected to decorate the Guatemalan piano.  He only had 2 weeks to complete this project! His piano design was inspired by the Mayan ruins of Tikal, intricate patterns of  Guatemalan textiles, and quetzals, the striking, long-tailed birds.

Working on the piano in the shop at Robert Lowrey Piano Experts.

For Guatemala with honour!

Anyone can play this piano at 10 Court Street, Toronto.

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David Pecaut Square – Canadian debut “Play Me, I’m Yours”.  So much creativity and talent!

I wonder which city/community will  have these pianos on exhibit after July 31?

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