Brave, Honest, and Straightforward, or Why Does Korchma Celebrate Cossack’s Day?
Almost each and every one of them wore a famous oseledets hairstyle, they could stop a horse on the fly or single-handedly engage in a combat with several infidels. The Cossacks are also known for being courageous bon vivants, good cooks, and magicians – kharakterniks who could do numerous supernatural things. Today it is hard to say whether they were true or imagined. But a multitude of historical sources state that “the free folk,” as the Ukrainian knights used to call themselves, had all the reasons to be feared and respected. As evidence of that are numerous wars and military conflicts where Cossacks had a prevailing victory over the enemy. The restaurants of our chain traditionally celebrate Cossack’s day and so we decided to gather the most interesting facts about them.
For example, the famous long oseledets hairstyle could only be worn by seasoned men, hardened in battles. It is curious that it had a sacral meaning. Because of the ongoing fights and battles, Cossacks considered themselves sinners and they knew they couldn’t get away from Hell. That is why, according to the legends circulating in their midst, only the merciful God could pull out a warrior by his hair from Hell’s cauldron.
For the murder of one Cossack by another, the punishment was fierce – he was buried together with the victim. An old Cossacks’ legend said that underground the victim would be forever strangling his offender.
Another grave crime was stealing. If a Cossack stole someone’s personal belongings or the community’s property, he was chained to the gun carriage and the gun was fired… Only voluntary return of the stolen things could save from such punishment. That is why when someone found a lost item at the Sich, he would be tied to a post for three days before the owner got his belongings back.
There were also special men among the Cossacks called the Kharakterniks – they were magicians, sorcerers. They were thought to originate from ancient pagan magi who possessed secret knowledge and could predict the future. People said that “neither fire, nor water, nor saber nor a regular bullet – only a silver one – could kill them” and they could “open locks without keys, sail in a boat on the floor like on sea waves, take red-hot cannon balls with bare hands and see for several miles around them.”
Since at the Sich and in military campaigns Cossacks lived without women, they had to do all their work, and so they developed an unrivalled cooking talent. One of the most popular dishes was solomakha made of buckwheat flour. Cossacks also cooked a teteria. It was a meal similar to porridge, cooked with millet and stuffed with liquid rye dough. Teteria was seasoned with pork lard mixed with garlic and onion. On feast days, the porridge was prepared on a meat or fish broth. During the fast, teteria was seasoned with horseradish and kvass. But of course, the most famous meal was kulish prepared of millet and seasoned with pork lard, meat, and onions.
There is a very accurate saying about Cossacks and their attitude toward food: “Cossacks are like children – if you serve them a lot – they will eat everything, if your serve them little – they will still be happy.”