Ukrainian art and Danish cabbage

We had a very multicultural day last Sunday. First, we drove to Hamilton for the opening of an exhibit on William Kurelek at the Hamilton Art Gallery. Kurelek was a Canadian artist of Ukrainian heritage (we saw the show in the company of a Ukrainian friend who has long been associated with the Kurelek Gallery in Niagara Falls) and his works include not only delightful  Canadian landscapes and domestic scenes but also some frightening dystopian visions of a world gone mad. Kurelek had suffered a nervous breakdown during a stay in England, and was fortunate enough to be sent to an institution where sympathetic therapists encouraged him to express his fears in his art.

At the end of his life (he died of a heart attack when he was only 50), Kurelek was living with his family in our Toronto neighbourhood (the east end, near the lake), and his paintings include this scene of a nearby street in the snow.

We left  Hamilton and drove back to Toronto through a snowstorm (appropriately enough), in time for dinner with our neighbour and friend, May (she, too, comes from a Ukrainian family). She served stuffed pork with this wonderful side dish, which I asked her to send me afterwards. She told me, “It is a traditional Danish dish, given to my sister by a friend.” On a cold winter day, with or without snow, it is perfect.

Danish Red Cabbage

1 red cabbage
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1tbsp. margarine or butter
2 tbsp. black or red currant jelly

Cut cabbage finely (like coleslaw). Put into saucepan with vinegar, water, sugar and cloves.
Simmer for an hour on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and drain. Stir in margarine  or butter (this gives it a shine) and jelly. Serve hot or cold. Traditionally served with pork, turkey, chicken, etc.

As for the view of the local street, we were able to identify the low white house with the chimney in the centre of the picture. Here it is on Google Street View, minus the snow. We’ll be walking up there on the weekend to see it for ourselves.

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