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History & Origins of Borsch
Borscht derives from a soup originally made by the Slavs from common hogweed, which lent the dish its Slavic name. Growing commonly in damp meadows throughout the north temperate zone, hogweed was used not only as fodder (as its English names suggest), but also for human consumption – from Eastern Europe to Siberia, to northwestern North America.
The Slavs collected hogweed in May and used its roots for stewing with meat, while the stems, leaves and umbels were chopped, covered with water and left in a warm place to ferment. After a few days, lactic and alcoholic fermentation produced a mixture described as "something between beer and sauerkraut". This concoction was then used for cooking a soup characterized by a mouth-puckering sour taste and pungent smell. As the Polish ethnographer Łukasz Gołębiowski wrote in 1830, "Poles have been always partial to tart dishes, which are somewhat peculiar to their homeland and vital to their health.
Countries where Borsch is considered as a traditional meal: