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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Ukraine celebrates 'festival of lard'
Salo pigs and figurines
Many Ukrainians believe salo is good for them

Ukrainians celebrated their love of pork fat at the weekend by consuming a giant sandwich filled with 40 kilos of the "delicacy" called salo.

The big "eat-in", held in the Crimean capital Simferopol, was the centrepiece of a nationwide salo festival.

All major television channels covered the event because despite health warnings - Ukraine has one of the highest death rates from heart disease in Europe - salo remains popular, due to its low price and high calorific value.

The nine square metre sandwich had to be guarded by police to stop guests tucking in before time, TV reports said.

Traditionally, small slices of the white snack are eaten with black bread, garlic and vodka. And, more recently, there is even a chocolate-coated version.

Is salo worse than Beaujolais? And does it occupy a lesser place in the affections of our people?
Boris Burda, TV Chef

Many Ukrainians believe salo is good for them and even keeps them slim. They say it contains amino acids that help burn fat in the body.

And they write poems, or sing songs, about their favourite national dish.


A TV chef famous in Russia and Ukraine, Boris Burda, said salo was a quality product comparable with fine wine.

"Salo is no less worthy of having its own festival than many other products which are pompously advertised at well-organised festivals," he said.

Ukrainians in traditional costume at the festival
Music and poetry has been inspired by salo

"Is salo worse than Beaujolais? And does it occupy a lesser place in the affections of our people?"

Mr Burda headed a panel of judges at the fair, where producers from across Ukraine displayed salted, spiced, baked and smoked varieties in different shapes - pig being the most popular.

The organisers now want to make the festival international, by inviting producers from neighbouring Russia, Poland and Hungary.

But in Ukraine itself, a poor grain harvest has sparked a "salo crisis", with the price doubling in 2004. This, coupled with an almost patriotic revival of its reputation, has led to salo moving upmarket.

"Salo is more an elite than a popular product now," Ukrainian 1+1 TV said in its report from the festival.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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