My BFF, Salo the Vodka Pig

"Russe? Deutsch?"

Once again we found ourselves shaking our heads and shrugging.

"English?" I say, hopefully"

"My English is... ok" the hostess says through her thick Ukrainian accent.

For months of honeymoon planning the thing I was most excited about doing in Lviv (aside from eating varenyky until I popped) was visiting the Salo museum. I had tweeted about it, shared posts on facebook. I was all about seeing sculptures made from the pig fat that is a traditional accompaniment to vodka in Ukraine but then we got to Lviv and... it was hot and we'd been eating rich, central/eastern European food for almost a month. I just didn't wanna. On our last day we dragged ourselves over, knowing we'd be kicking ourselves and full of regret if we didn't go.

"This is museum" She walks around the small room of sculptures unsure of what we want. We are also unsure. The room is a million degrees, only the sculptures are refrigerated in their glass cases. We stare at a huge mechanical heart made of Salo.


We take one each, they cost about fifty cents but we don't have any appropriately small bills and the hostess looks confused again. She guides us into the restaurant where there are smaller sculptures available for eating but there's only two of us and Putin looks like he requires at least four people to consume him completely.

We shake our heads and suddenly she has a realization. She pulls us back into the front room and pulls out two wooden tokens.

"Jeton! Jeton!" she exclaims while gesturing up the stairs.

We stare at her confused like she's the crazy one, not us two Americans who have decided to go to a pig fat museum in a country that's possibly on the brink of civil war for our honeymoon.

She grabs my hand and runs up the stairs, pulling me behind. At the landing there's a pig sculpture with a slot in its snout.

"Jeton!" and she puts the token in the pigs mouth before running back down the stairs.

A kinectic sculpture begins moving and a boombox begins playing a dance song with a chorus of "I love salo" that to my great disappointment I cannot now find on the internet.

"Now we dance! DANCE!" she says, looking at us quite sternly and demonstrating shimmying her shoulders and moving her arms in the air.

We dance.

Pistons move in the sculpture and a shot glass is filled from two different pipes.

"Salo Vodka" she says, proudly handing us the shot.

Salo vodka is nothing like the bacon infused vodka I've had before. There's none of the overpowering fake smoky flavor that seems de rigueur. Instead it's smooth and rich. To eat with our vodka shot is black bread with herbed salo. It's slightly salty and creamy. All of this costs about seventy-five cents.


Dan takes another jeton and runs up to the pig and then back down. The music begins to play and once again we are commanded to dance, it seems that no matter how many times we do this, dancing is always mandatory.

Two women and a group of young children come down into this museum of pig fat penises and dancing Americans. They seem bewildered. The hostess speaks to them in Russian for a few minutes and they leave.

"Again!" we exclaim much to the hostesses chagrin.

We are still not excused from dancing.

Despite the salo toast, we are very quickly getting tipsy in this hot room of venting refrigeration units. We spend the rest of our money on postcards and magnets. We eye the bottle of salo infused vodka longingly. The next morning we'll be on our way to Istanbul and we're not sure we want to risk bringing our pork liquor through customs our continue lugging it around until we're permanently settled in Korea.

A year later, we'll still have regrets about that decision.

You can read more about the Salo Museum on Trip Advisor, The Kyiv Post or Lonely Planet.

Salo Lviv Modern Art Museum is located in the basement at Svobody Ave 6/8 Lviv, Ukraine.