Roots, Wings and Possibilities

While you may expect a historical review of European dishes, a review of how Ukrainian dishes made it to the American kitchen or a cookbook that combines staple foods across two continents, From Borsch to Burgers is none of those. Ruslana Westerlund has gifted us, through her book From Borsch to Burgers a story of roots, wings and possibilities. She carefully selected various excerpts of her life journey that come together to create a mural that humanizes the immigrant story. Whether you are an immigrant or not, her story makes you long for your childhood home. Through stories that open your eyes to Ukranian history, culture and politics and stories that let you in the door to some of her most intimate stories of her life, Ruslana helps the reader connect in both familiar and unfamiliar ways. After all, we all have roots and her stories of home make you yearn for your own.

Ruslana’s story is also a story of wings, about how she got her wings and where those wings took her. From the sacrifices her parents made to provide her with the means to come to America, to her delight in seeing the United States through fresh eyes. She could have called the book from Potato Harvests to US Castles, or from Communist Propaganda to Minnesota Chatter. All these are but examples of the road trip on which the book takes the reader. Whatever the name, this book takes you from one place to another and paints a picture of what it means to cross cultural, political and social borders. To do that, you need wings and a wind of courage to get to your destination. Ruslana then comes to a full circle in narrating her new odyssey -to give roots and build new wings, this time for her children.

Finally, this book is about possibilities, possibilities in Ru’s life and possibilities for all of us. If a little girl from Buzhanka can travel across the world, conquer language and cultural barriers, and go beyond to become a gift to her new home, any of us has a chance to give back to our little corner of the world. And these possibilities give me hope, and they give me peace. Stories, they are powerful and they bring us together. My wish is that whoever reads Ru’s story (re)discovers the humanity in the immigrant story and through it, connects it to their own, reminding us that we are all border-crossers, we all weave in and out of each others’ stories and this way, we build a better world.”

– Mariana Castro, colleague