Penwhisk

Food with a Slice of History

Tag: civil resistance

Kozunak

Kozunak

Kozunak (image by Penwhisk)

The list of ingredients in my grandmother’s Kozunak, the sweet bread she baked on Holy Saturday before Orthodox Easter, was as follows:

First, civil disobedience.  (I will explain this one later.)

Second, raisins that had arrived in a package from my uncle, an enemy of the Bulgarian communist state, who lived in West Germany.

Third, my grandmother’s legendary skill in the kitchen.  The kneading, done in a particular way to produce the light, thread-like texture of the buttery dough, took hours on end.  My grandmother braced herself weeks in advance for this exacting baking task, like a wrestler in anticipation of a rigorous match that would consume all her stamina and will.  My mother would not even dare attempt to make Kozunak.

Finally, white flour, eggs, butter, yeast and milk.  These ingredients tested my grandmother’s ability to secure foodstuffs during the hungry years of Communism.

Read More

Sugar Cookies

Image courtesy of Austin Ban on Unsplash

The Bulgarian communist production system had its own version of the 1970s sugar cookie. The sugar cookies of my childhood came in a clear plastic bag with blue and red letters in the Cyrillic alphabet, which said something about zoo animals.  I’m certain that there was a hippopotamus and a monkey, maybe even a giraffe and a kangaroo.  The rest of the animal shapes I don’t remember.  Despite being a fan of these cookies, I have no recollection of their taste.  I enjoyed holding them in my tiny hands and running my finger over their surface to feel the texture.  The animal shape was the sole effort to appeal to the consumer that the communist centrally planned production system made.  The cookies had a neutral scent and the pale color of slightly under-cooked dough didn’t tempt me.  My goal was to get hold of as many cookies as possible so that I could arrange them and keep them away from my brother, who was known to devour anything, regardless of its taste.

Read More

Forest Wild Strawberries

Image courtesy of Niilo Isotalo on Unsplash

One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather taking me to pick wild strawberries in the surroundings of Koprivshtitsa, a town of some 2,000 inhabitants in the Sredna Gora mountains.  We would set out in the morning before the sun had a chance to turn hot, cross the stream on the outskirts of town, from which our household fetched its daily supply of water, and head through the open fields in the direction of the forest.  Leaving pastures with grazing cows behind, we soon disappeared under the shady trees, looking for a spot that other strawberry pickers had not discovered yet. 

Read More

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén