Ukrainian Food: 30 Famous Dishes & 3 Beverages
With a lot of public attention around Ukraine, more people are interested in learning about its culture. We couldn’t think of a better way to start than to show you how diverse and unique Ukrainian food is. Find here the most popular Ukrainian food, plus secret recipe tips.
Ukrainian food is a crucial part of the country’s culture. You can learn a lot about its history and traditions just by studying its cuisine. How about we give you a glimpse of that?
Traditional Ukrainian Cuisine – More than Borscht and Paska
If you’ve done a little bit of research on Ukrainian cuisine, you probably came across paella and tapas at some point. Ukrainian food is more vast and nuanced than that, though, and we’re here to prove it.
Most Popular Street Food in Ukraine
If you visit Ukraine, you don’t always have to eat at luxurious restaurants. Street food has a lot to offer, too. Let’s see a few examples.
You can’t say you fully experienced Ukrainian cuisine unless you try the falafel. It’s a combination of chickpeas, beans, and some spices. It’s simple, savory, and flavorful. You can also add cheese, hummus, or vegetables for extra flavor.
Despite being a Middle Eastern dish, shawarma has quickly become a famous Ukrainian street food. It’s marinated meat/chicken served with vegetables and various sauces. It’s incredibly flavorful, and all the components work well together. What’s not to like?
Most Popular Ukrainian Food in the World
Now that we’re done with street food, let’s see what Ukraine’s gourmet dishes are like. Here you’ll find the most popular Ukrainian food in the world.
Ask any Ukrainian to choose a few dishes to represent their cuisine, and borscht will be at the top of their list. The traditional dish includes meat, broth, vegetables, and beets. It comes in different forms, though, and each Ukrainian family has its own recipe.
It can be hot, cold, vegan, green, or red. It’s a perfect representation of the versatility of that cuisine. You can learn a lot about Ukrainian culture by looking at how they make Borscht. For example, although men can prepare it, it’s traditionally prepared by women.
A deep-fried butter-filled chicken? Who wouldn’t love that? You can find chicken Kyiv in numerous restaurants around the world today. It’s also served in Ukrainian schools and company cafeterias. So that should tell you how influential it is.
No one knows for sure where it was invented. Some say it’s French. Others say it’s American. The recipe has changed several times throughout history, so no one knows for sure. No matter the origin, there’s no denying it’s Ukraine that made it what it is today.
How Healthy Ukrainian Food Is
There isn’t a definitive answer to that question, as Ukrainian cuisine includes both healthy and unhealthy dishes. You’ll find that cabbage and beets are stable ingredients in Ukrainians’ food. They contain various vitamins and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
As we’ll cover in a few minutes, Ukrainian food also contains a lot of pork and sausages, which can do the exact opposite. Yes, Ukrainians aren’t known for their healthy eaters, but that’s not the food’s fault. There’s no objective answer to that question. It all depends on one’s eating habits.
Famous and Popular Ukrainian Dishes You Have to Try
Yes, borscht and chicken Kyiv are Ukraine’s most famous dishes. However, limiting the country’s entire food culture to those two dishes would be a crime against humanity.
Ukrainian food is more diverse and unique than you think. So, let’s see what other super dishes you can find there.
Do you like jelly? Do you like meat? Then, holodets is the perfect dish for you. Yes, it’s meat broth that’s been frozen to a jelly-like consistency, with pieces of meat or pork inside it. It may not look like the most appetizing dish in the world, but the flavor would surprise you.
Although the dish was popular in the late 90s, it gradually lost its momentum. Ukraine is one of the few countries that still holds it dear to its identity. Although that bizarre combo isn’t that popular with tourists, you’ll find it in most Ukrainian celebrations, weddings, and birthdays.
Nalisniki is one of the more flexible Ukrainian recipes on this list. If you ever visit Ukraine, you’ll probably get this dish at the end of the main course, which makes sense. Who wouldn’t want their main course to end with a bang?
So, what makes this dish versatile? Well, you can fill these crepes with anything you like. Sure, the traditional filling is cottage cheese or mushrooms, but you can use jam, chocolate, sugar, and more. Nalisniki crepes are usually quite thin.
That means the filling will be the star of the show. The best part? This recipe is beginner-friendly. You don’t have to worry about making the perfect crepes. You’ll eventually roll them over the filling. So you won’t notice all the imperfections and weird edges.
Varenyky is one of the most time-consuming Ukrainian recipes you can make, but the results are worth it. Like nalisniki, you can fill these dumplings with anything you want. The traditional fillings are cheese, mashed potatoes, cherries, and currant.
You can also use pumpkin, strawberries, olives, or nettle. Expect to find different variations of varenyky in different regions. For example, it’s customary to use crushed beans as filling in Polissia. The people of Chernihiv, on the other hand, like to add bacon crisps.
Varenyky isn’t just a popular Ukrainian dish. It holds a symbolic significance related to the country’s culture. Ancient Ukrainians equated kneading the dough of the varenyky to the origin of the universe. They also viewed filling it as a symbol of the development of humankind.
Holubtsi consists of rolled boiled vine or cabbage leaves filled with rice and meat. Ukrainian restaurants usually serve them with a small bowl of sour cream. If you’re not a fan of rice, you can replace it with mushrooms or carrots.
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s more challenging than you think. It takes an expert to cook all the ingredients at the right consistency, so the leaves don’t break when you roll them.
This dish holds a special place in Ukrainians’ hearts that they’ll serve it at weddings and Christmas parties.
“Holubtsi” is derived from the word “holub,” which is Ukrainian for pigeon. Some believe it’s called that because ancient Ukrainians used to wrap pigeon meat with cabbage. Others think it’s because the rolled leaves resemble the shape of a bird wing.
Banosh is one of those savory dishes you can tell is good just by looking at it. It’s made of corn porridge, fried mushrooms, cheese, and spring onion. The combination of yellow, reddish brown, green, and white makes for appealing visuals that reflect the dish’s incredible taste.
Some Ukrainians believe that you can only achieve banosh’s authentic flavor by cooking it in a cauldron with an open fire. Of course, that’s not available for everyone. If you ever get the chance, though, give it a go and see how it’ll turn out.
Soups & Salads
Holodets and banosh are delicious and fulfilling. However, you can’t have a proper meal without a healthy salad and a bowl of warm soup. Luckily, Ukraine has plenty of those. Let’s see a few examples.
Olivier Salad (Potato Salad)
Some argue that this is the most delicious potato salad in the world. We can’t disagree. With rich ingredients and a creamy texture, it’s no wonder it takes the top of our list. Olivier salad is a combination of potatoes, carrots, onions, pickles, boiled eggs, peas, and mayo.
Here’s the thing: This dish isn’t a one-trick pony. That means you can put your own twist on it if you want. Some like to add ham to add a punchy flavor.
Others add chicken. There’s no limit. The versatile nature of this dish makes it a staple in Ukrainian celebrations, holidays, and gatherings.
Vinaigrette (Beet Salad)
This salad tastes as good as it looks. It’s a combination of beets, potatoes, peas, onions, carrots, and pickles, so what do you expect?
It takes some time to prepare because you have to boil the beets before assembling the components of the salad. The punchy flavor is worth it, though. Naturally, you don’t have to stick to just these ingredients.
You can add any vegetable that you think would complement them. Vinaigrette has become such a crucial part of Ukrainian cuisine that it’d be hard to find a Ukrainian citizen who’s never had it before.
In fact, it’s one of the 12 staple, meatless dishes they cook during Christmas Eve. So that should tell you everything you need to know.
This salad goes along with any meal you might have. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s more than just cabbage and cucumbers.
The dill, parsley, and onions create a rare harmony that makes this dish so unique. Add vegetable oil and garlic salt, and you might find your new favorite salad.
It’s delicious, healthy, and refreshing, making it suitable for summer parties. You can also expect to find it at weddings and holidays.
Traditionally, it’s made without mayonnaise, but some regions like to add it to make it more creamy. If that’s how you want to approach it, skip the oil. That can ruin the flavor.
Carpathian Mushroom Soup
Who doesn’t like warm, rich mushroom soup? Well, Ukraine’s famous Carpathian soup won’t let you down. What makes this soup special is that it uses porcini mushrooms, which you can find in the Carpathian forests. If you don’t know, that’s quite an expensive type.
It’s also not easy to find in the U.S., so you know it offers incredible flavor. The combination of mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and onion also adds to its aromatic nature.
Dried porcini is the traditional way to make this soup. However, fresh mushrooms will give you excellent flavor as well.
Nettle has been part of the Ukrainian culture for centuries. Besides food, ancient Ukrainians used it for medicine. After all, nettle leaves are rich in vitamins A, C, B2, and K1.
They also contain calcium, potassium, and iron. They help with body detox, eliminating toxins in the kidneys, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
But enough about their medicinal benefits. Let’s talk about their flavor. Nettle leaves may not look appetizing.
Combine them with garlic, parsley, onions, and broth, however, and you get an exquisite soup that stimulates all your senses. If you want a bit of creaminess, add a spoonful of crème fraîche.
Starters, Sandwiches, Sides
So, you’re not into soup or salads. How about we show you a few Ukrainian sandwiches then? Sure, that doesn’t sound intriguing. However, with unique starters and side dishes, you’re bound to find a meal that piques your interest.
Herring and Pickled Cucumber
Herring and pickles are two of the most popular ingredients in Ukrainian cuisine. Are we really surprised they combined them together in one dish?
The bitterness of the pickles and the delicate flavor of the herring make for a unique combination. The dish is also simple and quick to prepare. That’s why it’s the perfect appetizer. It’s also a staple in Ukrainian parties/family gatherings.
Boiled Potatoes and Herring
The potatoes and herring dish is quite a comprehensive one. You get the buttery flavor of potatoes, the flaky texture of the fish, and the bitterness of pickled vegetables. If you’re hosting a party, make this appetizer and watch your guests drool over it.
Chicken Liver-Stuffed Eggs
We know it doesn’t sound like a tasty combination but don’t judge before you eat. Boiled eggs and chicken liver actually create a harmonious flavor. If you want to make it at home but feel intimidated, don’t worry. It’s as quick and beginner-friendly as it gets.
Sausage is a famous appetizer in various countries around the world, so it’s no wonder Ukraine has a version of it.
Sure, sausages are fine on their own, but Ukrainians love adding parsley and garlic, which creates an unforgettable flavor. Don’t expect the same experience in every restaurant, though, as each restaurant adds its own twist to the recipe.
If you say “sandwich” to a Ukrainian person, kanapky is probably the first thing that will cross their minds – and with good reason. It’s a versatile sandwich. It takes many forms and includes various ingredients like cream cheese, bologna, and onions.
You can replace bologna with sausage and use butter or mayo instead of cream cheese. You can also add whatever vegetables you think would complement the sandwich. Bring a plate of kanapky to a party or a gathering, and they’ll be everyone’s favorite.
Potaptsi sandwich embodies the idea of “the simpler, the better.” With tomatoes, cheese, and oil, you get a harmonious sandwich that will fill you up with its sweet-savory flavor. It may not have the same cultural influence as the kanapky sandwich, but it’s still a must-try.
Potato Pancakes (Deruny)
Deruny might be the most popular side dish in Ukraine. It’s delicious and fulfilling enough to be a main course. It’s grated potatoes shaped into pancakes with salt and pepper. Combine that with a small serving of sour cream, and it couldn’t get any better than this.
Don’t be surprised if different restaurants serve different versions of that dish. Some like to add mushrooms and onion, while others use fresh herbs to add a punchy flavor.
In the past, cooking deruny on Sunday was a famous Ukrainian tradition. Now you can see it all year, especially at holidays and celebrations.
If you ever go into a Ukrainian home, there’s a high chance you might find a jar of sauerkraut in their kitchen.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage and carrots with a hefty sprinkle of salt. Some restaurants like to add cranberries to balance the flavor, so you get sweet and savory flavors.
We know that’s what you’re here for. So, enough stalling, and let’s get into some of the most famous Ukrainian main dishes.
Goulash is a Ukrainian take on beef stew. It’s a combination of meat and vegetables seasoned with various spices. If you order it at a Ukrainian restaurant, they’ll probably serve it with bread or noodles.
Ironically, it originated in Hungary, but it quickly spread all over Eastern Europe until it took its modern form in Ukraine.
Solyanka is a soup that comes in different versions and with different ingredients. The base of solyanka is tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, and onions—although some like to add cabbage, carrots, and capers.
It also comes with sour cream and dill as toppings. Here’s the thing: Solyanka comes in three forms.
There’s meat solyanka, which contains ham, beef, sausage, or chicken. There’s also fish solyanka, and mushroom solyanka. Fun fact: Ukrainians use solyanka to treat hangovers. You see, the salty content in it relieves the headache and provides an energy boost.
Roasted Duck with Apples
Duck has been part of Ukrainian cuisine for decades. We know what you’re thinking: “It’s a crucial part of most other cuisines. What makes this one special?” Well, yes, Ukrainians cook a classic roasted duck, juicy and tender from the inside and crispy from the outside.
However, they add a little twist in the end: A sweet sauce. It could be a honey, an apple, or an orange sauce, depending on the restaurant.
It offers a punchy sweet-salty flavor that makes this dish so irresistible. They also stuff the duck with apples, oranges, and onions for extra flavor.
Although it’s a Russian dish, okroshka has quickly become one of the most famous soup dishes in Ukraine. It includes potatoes, eggs, cucumbers, radishes, meat, and kvas.
Unlike other soup dishes on this list, this one is always served cold. Sometimes, local restaurants can even add ice cubes to maintain its cold flavor.
This dish has different names in different regions. In Western Ukraine, it’s called “kulesha.” In Romania, however, it’s called “mamaliga.” Italians call it “Polenta.” No matter the name, though, it’s still a combination of cornflower, water, salt, and butter.
Most restaurants will probably serve it with Bryndza cheese, bacon, or mushrooms. Compared to the other recipes on our main dishes list, this one is the simplest. And it’s this simplicity that makes it a famous dish in Ukraine.
Bread, Pastries, Dessert
You’ve had enough soup and chicken dishes for now. Let’s cover some light, fluffy baked goods. This chapter offers you everything you need to know about Ukrainian bread, pastries and desserts.
Ukrainians have been making palianytsia bread for decades now. It’s become a symbol of prosperity, happiness, festivity, and hospitality.
Not only does it accompany their everyday meals, but it’s also a crucial part of their celebrations. You’ll find palianytsia bread in holiday gatherings and celebrations.
Even the way it’s made is different from other breads. Ukrainians don’t bake the dough in an oven. They heat it on a flat surface. As a bread that offers unique flavors and holds that much cultural significance, you have to try palianytsia at some point.
Whether it’s Ukraine, Belarus, or Moldova, numerous Slavic countries hold this bread close to their culture. Like palianytsia, kolach symbolizes luck and prosperity. You can identify it the moment you set your eyes on it, as the braided circular shape is quite distinguishable.
You won’t find a Christmas Eve celebration in Ukraine without kolach. In fact, no wedding, holiday, or family gathering is complete without it. Some guests go as far as gifting it to the bride and groom on their wedding day to wish them a happy, eternal marital life.
You can tell how delicious paska bread is at first glance. The cylindrical shape, the rounded tops, and the white glaze are elements that add to the unique visuals of the bread. And trust us when we say it tastes as good as it looks.
Besides taste, paska holds quite a cultural significance in Ukraine, as bakers make it to celebrate the Easter season. It’s one of the most crucial holidays of the year. Ukrainian bakers go all out making different forms of that bread.
Despite having a Russian origin, piroshki has become one of Ukraine’s prized pastries. It’s a simple recipe, but it checks all the marks. The yeast-leavened dough offers a light, fluffy texture. You can bake or fry it, depending on your preference.
Don’t get us started on the taste. Here’s the thing: You can use sweet or savory fillings with piroshki. So, if you want a light lunch, you can fill it with mushrooms, meat, eggs, or rice and enjoy a savory dish. If you have a sweet tooth, use jam, chocolate, or fruit as a filling.
With its small size and delicate crust, knyshi is the perfect pastry snack. It’s as flexible as piroshki. The traditional stuffing is buckwheat and cheese, but you can add jam, chocolate, or fruit.
As you can see, it’s a flexible pastry that goes along with any meal, so many Ukrainian restaurants serve knyshi as a side dish.
Bublik is a round, boiled-baked bun made with active dry yeast. Yes, it’s similar to the American bagel, but bublik tends to be lighter and sweeter with a more tender crust.
Unlike bagels, Ukrainians don’t view bublik as a breakfast option. It’s more of an appetizer or a side pastry they can have with a cup of coffee.
Yes, it’s another dish with “paska” in its name, so you know Ukrainians make it to celebrate Easter. It’s a mixture of butter, sugar, eggs, and cured cheese. However, this one is a no-bake dessert. You assemble the ingredients, put them in the fridge, and enjoy it the following day.
Some locals like to boil the batter to get a creamier texture, but that’s not the norm. You can easily identify syrna paska. Ukrainians usually form the batter into a pyramid shape and decorate it with crosses.
That’s not always the case, though. As you can tell, the batter is quite flexible, so it can take different shapes.
Verhuny is a classic Ukrainian cookie recipe. It’s famous for its diamond-shaped roll look. However, it can take different shapes depending on the region. Some like to make a hole in the middle of the dough and wrap the sides inside it.
It’s also had different cooking methods throughout the years. It used to be fried in lard, but Ukrainians recently switched to regular oil. Appearances and cooking methods aside, verhuny’s sweet flavor and crispy texture have made it a popular dish in Ukraine.
Secret Recipe Tips
Now that we’ve covered as many dishes as possible, it’s time to give you a few Ukrainian cooking secrets. Here you’ll find secret recipe tips.
Borscht: Use Canned Beets
No one can deny that borscht is delicious, but sometimes it’s just too much of a hassle to make. Well, we can offer you a few tips to save some time but still make it just as good. You want to use canned beets. Yes, we know they don’t taste as good.
Don’t worry. We’ll make up for that with our second secret ingredient: Non-fat evaporated milk. It adds a unique creaminess to the soup, and makes it more rich and fulfilling. You can also add whipping cream if you want, but you should know it includes a lot of calories.
Holubtsi: Leave the Rice Raw
Although it’s a bit tricky, holubtsi is a straightforward recipe. We can still offer a few pro tips to make your experience more worthwhile. Some people like to half-cook the rice before rolling it with cabbage leaves. The idea here is to let the rice cook with the tomato sauce.
Here’s the thing: If you use raw rice, it’ll absorb more tomato sauce as it cooks in the oven. You’ll end up with a more punchy flavor. If you decide to cook this on a stovetop, we recommend covering the dish with another plate to keep the rolls juicy.
Paska Bread: Go With High-Protein Flour
Making bread is more complex than cooking soup or rolling cabbage leaves. One mistake can ruin the entire recipe, so you need all the help you can get.
While all-purpose flour will get the job done, you want to use high-protein flour if available, as it provides a more delicate texture. Ideally, you want your dough to be sticky, but not all types of flour offer the same results.
So, readjust the amount of flour you use depending on its type. You also don’t want to skip soaking the raisins because It brings out their texture and adds more moisture to the bread.
The most important tip by far is to get the milk to 110-120℉. That temperature helps activate the yeast, which causes the bread to rise.
We all know you can’t have a meal without a drink, and Ukraine has a wide selection of those. Here you’ll find the best of them.
Uzvar is a popular drink that’s become a crucial part of the Christmas season in Ukraine, especially on Christmas Eve. It’s made by pouring hot water over dried fruit, like apples, prunes, apricots, and pears.
Some locals like to boil the fruit in hot water. The traditional recipe dictates using one type of fruit, but you can combine different types together if you want.
Ryazhenka is the only milk-based drink on this list, but it’s not just any milk drink. It’s a mixture of milk and cream simmered on low heat until it thickens.
As weird as it sounds, you can also bake it in a Dutch oven if you have one. It’s refreshing, sweet, smooth, and creamy; the perfect drink for a hot summer day.
The best thing about kysil is that it doesn’t have a definitive form. It could be as thick as jelly or as runny as regular beverages. Fun fact: At one point, Ukrainians considered the jelly form of this beverage a full dish. It’s similar to how Italians view panna cotta.
It can be made with anything, whether it’s fruit, rhubarb, or milk. The idea of this drink is simple. You just pour your ingredients into boiling water and let it simmer. Then, you add a mixture of cornstarch and water to your juice to thicken it.
From what we’ve covered so far, you can probably tell that Ukrainians have a few staple ingredients that they use in their cuisine. If you didn’t catch those, don’t worry. We’ll cover them all in this section.
Cabbage has been a regular crop in Ukraine for decades now. It’s available throughout the year and can be stored for a long time. So it’s only natural it becomes a staple ingredient in its cuisine.
Besides, cabbage is a flexible ingredient that takes part in various dishes, be it soup, rolls, stew, or salad.
We all know how Ukrainians love fulfilling food, and cabbage is exactly that. Flavor and fulfillment aside, it has numerous health benefits as well. It’s rich in vitamins K and C.
It also contains kaempferol and sulforaphane, powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.
You probably saw this one coming. Beets are so popular among Ukrainians that they turned them into drinks. Don’t believe us? Well, if you ever visit that country, search for beet kvass and let us know what you think. They come in different types with various aesthetics.
That means you can achieve intriguing visuals with your dishes. The sweet flavor of beets complements numerous dishes, making them a flexible ingredient.
Additionally, the nitrate content in beets can help lower your blood pressure, which protects your heart from potential diseases.
We’re not just talking about cucumbers. Ukrainians love pickled food in general. Who can blame them? That acidic flavor goes along with most savory dishes. You can have them with a light cheese sandwich or a luxurious salo dish.
If that’s not enough, you’ll be glad to know that the probiotics in pickled food help in digestion. So, you’ll have a hearty meal and won’t have to worry about having a stomach ache. They also promote cardiovascular health and reduce skin diseases.
Buckwheat has been a part of Ukrainian cuisine for centuries now. It adds a bitter, nutty flavor and a chewy texture to the food. It’s the perfect addition to salads, pastries, and desserts. Not only does buckwheat lower blood pressure, but it can also promote cardiovascular health.
It has a low glycemic index, which means the nutrients in it are absorbed slowly into the bloodstream. So you don’t have to worry about your blood sugar levels spiking after a meal. Rich in fiber and low in calories, buckwheat is a perfect ingredient for weight management.
Herbs and Spices
No matter what ingredients Ukrianians use in their food, they won’t taste good without proper spices. So, let’s see how they achieve these mouth-watering flavors.
We all know adding a few cloves of garlic can elevate any dish. It’s a versatile ingredient that takes many forms and has different effects depending on how you use it. Chopped, raw garlic adds a powerful scent and a punchy flavor with a bit of chewiness.
If you roast or simmer it, however, it adds this soft, buttery flavor that will surprise its eaters. Even if you find a traditional Ukrainian recipe that doesn’t include garlic, you’re bound to find a version that uses it.
Here’s the cherry on top: The allicin in garlic reduces cholesterol and promotes cardiovascular health.
You’ll find that dill is a crucial component of many of the recipes we covered in this post, with good reason. Its sharp taste and aromatic nature stimulate the senses with every bite. Dill is rich in vitamins A and C, which strengthen your immunity and promote quick recoveries.
It’s also loaded with calcium, a crucial component to maintaining healthy bones. Dill is famous for lowering your cholesterol, which, in turn, reduces your stress levels. The flavonoids and B-complex vitamins in it can also help fight insomnia.
Pepper goes into most savory dishes in the world, so of course it takes a place on this list. It can enhance the flavor of meat, vegetables, fish, or chicken. It also comes in different forms and adds different flavors to your dishes. The possibilities are endless with this spice.
Ukrainian Food Culture
Now, you’re pretty much an expert in Ukrainian food. That said, we’ve only covered dishes/drinks/ingredients and what they taste like. We haven’t covered the cultural side of Ukrainian food. Let’s see how they differ from other countries.
Ukrainians don’t have any exotic eating habits. The most eye-catching aspect is probably the emphasis on home-cooked meals.
Yes, most Ukrainians prefer eating at home than at restaurants. It’s also crucial to spend mealtime with family members, laughing and catching up.
The structure of Ukrainian meals is nothing out of the ordinary. They start their day with a light breakfast. That includes a cup of coffee/tea and a sandwich. Lunch is the main meal of the day.
It usually involves a bowl of soup and a meat/poultry dish. Ukrainian dinner is similar to most other countries. It includes soup, the main dish, then dessert.
As we’ve already established, Ukrainians cherish mealtime. So they always follow a specific etiquette to ensure it goes well.
For instance, they always hold the fork with their right hand and the knife with their left. They also think it’s rude to put their elbows on the table. Hosts will also offer their guests bread with salt as a sign of hospitality and friendliness.