Confronting war, young Ukrainians find new purpose

by Scott Peterson CSM Staff writer from Odessa, Ukraine


148295Ukrainian chef Diana Khalilova makes a gourmet dinner for friends in the apartment they share in the strategic Black Sea port city of Odessa, on March 8, 2022. Ms. Khalilova is one of a number of young Ukrainian professionals whose lives have changed direction since the Russian invasion of their country; she now attends basic military training and cooks as a volunteer at a kitchen serving Ukrainian security forces and those displaced by the war.Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor

March 23, 2022

Ukrainian cook Diana Khalilova is in her happy place, working her wizardry in the kitchen to delight the taste buds of hungry friends.

But she’s not at the food and wine bistro where she normally works – it closed when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Instead, the young cook is in a cramped kitchen, after curfew, throwing together a bulgur risotto for her 20-something housemates brought together by war.

The tools of flavor are the same: pouches of pre-prepped delicacies brought home from the restaurant to eat so they don’t spoil, such as anchovy and shredded onion paste, wild mushrooms, and salty goat pecorino cheese.

As snow falls outside, the thick-walled 150-year-old apartment – with its high ceilings and artistic touches (an illustrator and musicians live here too) – fills with the mouthwatering aroma of frying onions and garlic.

Yet it is not long before the war intrudes upon the conversation, bringing with it a boiling anger at Russian attackers.

“Today we learned how to shoot; it was so much fun,” says Ms. Khalilova, about a session for volunteers to learn assault rifle basics. It was the first time she had ever touched a gun.

“I’m a complete pacifist – I never thought about arms and weapons,” she says while scoring several locally produced brie cheeses for baking.

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Last edited 5/25/2022 7:24:46 PM

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