The old Soviet block, today's Eastern European countries are not be the first (probably not even the tenth) place to come up in most people's list of countries known for their great food. Still, for many East Germans I know who have spent their childhood in what still was the GDR, Eastern European food, especially Russian, retains the same fascination of exotic food mixed with the nostalgic longing for childhood. I have to grin every time Daniela talks of Russian candy. She hates desserts that are too sweet, but buys these candies whenever she finds them, ignoring their cloying sugar content. I suspect she eats them because they brings back special memories, and not for the taste, so I've stopped making jokes about the contradiction in personal food tastes.
Daniela is not the only one with a sweet tooth for Russian goods. Some local grocery stores carry a section with Russian goods, canned and frozen mainly, and we even had a little Russian store for a while in Jena selling a nice selection of Vodkas. After they closed the candy supply dried out. Until a few months ago, when I came home to find Daniela munching on a Russian sweet smiling. A new Russian shop had opened. It took me month's before I managed to get there: being out of my usual way I never managed to make it before the early closing time. Once I did manage though, I found something much more interesting than candy to me: pirogi.
Or pierogi, pirozhki, piroggi, pirioshki. Spell them however you like,
I'm lazy and chose the easiest. Loads and so many different sorts I
could not choose: mushroom, , cabbage, fish, ground meat, potatoes,
apple, baked, fried... Choices, choices, why are they so hard? I ended
up buying five kinds, the four in the picture plus one that I
on the way home. The mushroom and leek and egg were great, and the
rest, potatoes, cabbage and ground beef pirogi were well made too,
maybe a tad too filling. That might have been caused by eating three
pirogi on my own though.
Curious I started looking for a recipe. I'll still go to the shop and buy them, don't get me wrong, but they seem pretty easy to do so I though I cold have a go for fun once or twice. What I found has been confusing. One one hand I found recipes for the pirogi I bought: baked or fried turnovers essentially. And then I found many recipes for boiled pirogi dumplings, mainly filled with potatoes and cheese, more similar in shape if not in filling to what I learned to know as palmeni. Can anyone clear this up? Do the two recipes have different origins and similar names by chance? Are they just different versions of a basic pirogi that can be prepared in m ore ways than what the sacred texts, read Larousse Gastronomique, say?
While I wait for the answer I'll have another pirogi, with mushrooms please. And for those who live in Jena or should drop by here's the address of the shop:
Kolobok - Russisches Gebäck
Zwätzengasse 6, Jena