There’s nothing like pictures to inspire us to cook but one of my favourite and obviously well used recipe books, “The Old World Kitchen” by Elizabeth Luard boasts no colour photography. The illustrations are pen and ink drawings by Luard. Yet it is the cookbook I frequently go to for simple authentic recipes that are grounded in history. This morning I had a serendipitous moment. I had pulled out “The Old World Kitchen” and opened it to a Hungarian recipe for handmade noodles. Luard has a recipe for Tarhonya or noodle barley. I was pondering whether this was the same as the Csipetke noodles that we sell when Ilona came into the store. I have been on quite the learning curve trying to master the Hungarian names for the products we sell. One customer has taught me how to say, “Delicious!” in Hungarian (as in the title of this post!) or “Volt nagyon finom!” Which means: It was very tasty! Ilona has been especially helpful in my efforts to master some of the Hungarian. The sounds of the language are starting to become familiar so when she told me the name of the noodle that she couldn’t find on the shelf I followed my hunch. My recipe book was still sitting open in the store kitchen. Sure enough Tarhonya was exactly what she was looking for and fortunately I can get it from one of wholesalers…so Ilona will soon get her noodles.
Luard describes tarhonya as “probably the most primitive noodle dough in the world, the ancient solution to the problem of how to make milled grain palatable, storable and portable.” Palatable seems a bit short of nagyon finom! yet Luard says these pearl barley shaped noodles are still made in Hungary today even though the ancient need to preserve milled grains isn’t quite as urgent in the modern age. Obviously, tarhonya is delicious or no one would be asking for it anymore. Old world cooking is an antidote to fast food overload. We all crave foods that satisfy more than an empty stomach. Anne Applebaum, co-author of “From a Polish Country Kitchen”, writes that immediately after communism collapsed in Poland the Polish people craved foods from the world beyond. “But in recent years, Polish cooks, both amateur and professional, have returned to their roots, launching a revival of Polish cooking on a national scale.” We all crave the foods that babcia, nagymama, or oma cooked. These foods satisfy something much deeper than the bottom of our stomachs.
This is one of the reasons why I am always looking for cookbooks that honour the cooking traditions of different cultures. Yesterday, I scored some new finds. Come on in and check out our cookbook collection. Here’s a peak at what you will find:
From Classic French cooking to German, Scandinavian, Belgian, Dutch, South American, Jewish and more.
Lachsschinken is a dry cured pork ham. You could think of it as Bavaria’s alternative to proscuitto. Literally translated Lachsschinken means “salmon ham”. Not surprising then that it is often served like smoked salmon, sliced so thin you can almost see through it and arranged on a platter with fried capers and chopped onion. But this smoked meat doesn’t need any extra adornment. You will find yourself sneaking a few pieces that were meant for the platter when no one is looking!
If you are visiting Welland for the first time, you might note the rich cultural heritage of the city…particularly evident on Saturday mornings at the local farmers’ market at Market Square. A memorial just down from the market beside the canal pays tribute to the people who built the Welland Canal. It is fitting, therefore, that the world is coming to Welland for the 12th World Dragon Boat Racing Championships because the world lives in Welland. Here at the European Pantry we celebrate this rich heritage of cultures. We carry a wide variety of ethnic imports and are always looking to find those products that bring the taste of home into the kitchens of Welland. Apropos then that our store here at 30 Avenue Place is located in a building that also has a strong cultural history. Today we had an enjoyable visit from yet someone else who has a family connection to the building. It was a pleasure to meet Josephine Davies nee Ort. Several members of her family lived here about 65 years ago. She told us of her German immigrant family, the Orths who settled as farmers on Forks Road south of Welland. Two Ort(h) sisters, Anna and Louise, married two local Templain brothers, also of German heritage. When Louise’s husband died soon after the marriage, she moved into 30 Avenue place. Her sister Anna settled across the street at 23 Avenue Place. After both Anna’s husband and Louise died, Anna moved into 30 Avenue Place with her daughter Marjorie. Josephine said that Anna and Louise were real city girls despite their farm upbringing. They used their exceptional seamstress skills to keep themselves dressed to the nines. Louise worked at a fancy store just a block over in downtown Welland….so dressing well was important.
So the walls of our store which once watched the activities of both German and Hungarian families must smile now as the descendants of these immigrant groups come here to find the foods that connect them to their roots. And our city, built by immigrants of so many cultures, smiles as we welcome the dragon boat racers of the world!
Some more cyclists came by last weekend. This time from Jamestown, New York. Did you know that Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown? I didn’t. She also is buried there and it is home to the Lucy Desi Museum and Center for Comedy. This summer Jamestown hosted a Lucille Ball comedy festival. So many interesting things to learn when people come by and visit the Pantry. And our visitors went home knowing a bit more about Welland. Plus they received one of our handcrafted souvenir lunch bags.
The world will be coming to Welland next week for the International Dragon Boat Races. Take the opportunity to chat with someone and learn a bit about their part of the world!
The European Pantry is sending Three Thousand Welcomes to our Dragon Boat visitors coming to Welland August 19-23 to participate in the 12th World Dragon Boat Championships.
A warm welcome was tied into each of the little invites. We hope your visit to Welland will be enjoyable. We wish you all smooth waters and speed as you paddle your way to distinction!
Please drop by our Pantry and introduce yourselves so we can personally welcome you to Welland. We would love to hear where you are from! On the back of each card you will find a coupon for some sweet savings and a map of our location. Come and explore our wide selection of cheeses and European imports!