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Old 11-27-2013, 02:37 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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It seems to me that much of Central and Eastern European cuisine, and to an extent Northern European cuisine as well, is really similar compared to the larger differences one might find with other parts of Europe where French, Italian, and Spanish cuisine seem more distinctive from each other and even from within. In China, a lot of regional cuisines are really distinct because of how the place is broken up geographically by large plains, mountains, and basins and Europe does have its massive plain. The thing is, it looks like it keeps on stretching will into Belgium while the Carpathians make it seem like Hungary is cut-off. However, it seems like Hungary's cuisine is a lot more what I associate with other central/eastern european cuisines than Belgium's.

For people who've traveled and dined throughout Europe, does it seem like there is a larger homogenous block of cuisine for Central and Eastern Europe? Are there certain ways that the different cuisines cluster with each other in terms of similarities?
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Old 11-28-2013, 06:34 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
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Mhm... Hard to tell. Let's analyze popular (traditional) dishes of some countries that are bordering Austria:

Czech Republic: Vepřo-knedlo-zelo. Pork roast, dumplings, cabbage. The exact same thing can be found in Austria, Hungary and Bavaria.
Slovakia: Bryndzové halušky. Basically what we'd call Spätzle with cheese. Same concept as Tyrolean Kasspatzn. The cheese they use is totally different, though. They also have Pirohy. Same stuff as Polish Pieroggi.
Hungary: The culinary star of CEE. Hungarian cuisine has probably the biggest influence on all the former Austro-Hungarian states. Gulasch/Pörkölt, chicken paprikas and stuffed cabbage is pretty popular in the whole region.
The Austrians brought Schnitzel to most of CEE in return.

It's hard to tell whether all the cuisines are basically the same, though. I mean, the Hungarian cuisine is pretty distinctive (heavy use of paprika, garlic and cumin), but we in Austria are so used to Hungarian dishes, that we don't even think of them being Hungarian anymore. "Paprikahendl" is Austrian, even though it's blatantly obvious that it's the same as paprikás csirke. Taste wise, they are completely different to bacon dumplings from Upper Austria, but because of some weird twist in history we are now able to order both dishes at the same restaurant.

Bryndzové halušky from Slovakia are basically small dumplings (Spätzle/Nockerl) with cheese. It looks like the Swiss/German/Austrian version, but the taste of the cheese makes it completely different (at least in my opinion). So, even though it looks pretty similar, I'd consider them miles apart.

Then there is "Eisbein" and "Stelze/Haxe" in Germany and Austria. Pork shank. We Southerners usually roast it, the Northerners just boil it (yuck...). The results look like this:
South: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...izerhaus04.jpg
North: http://senioren-bruno-taut.de/media/...en/eisbein.jpg
Same ingredients, different results.

So yeah... There are lots of similarities (in the end it's all about starch and meat) and there was a lot of culinary exchange within the Habsburg Empire. But in the end, all of the cuisines have quite distinctive features.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:06 PM
 
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All this sound quite different from Russian cuisine, that has mostly one purpose in mind - to feel you up and warm you up to a point that you already want to get outside and have a gulp of cold air.
First of all it has a lot of soups - soups of different kinds - from schi

Shchi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

to ukha and borsht and everything in-between.

Ukha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Borscht - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you are still not dead from the heatstroke from those, than Russian pirozhky will sure add to a process of "stuffing- and- warming- you- up." It can be one big pirog of course, but more often they are baked as smaller kind and it's a totally different dish comparably to Polish pierogy.

"A common variety of pirozhki are baked stuffed buns made from yeast dough and often glazed with egg to produce the common golden colour. They commonly contain meat (typically beef) or a vegetable filling (mashed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and egg, or cabbage). Pirozhki could also be stuffed with fish (e.g., salmon) or with an oatmeal filling mixed with meat or giblets. Sweet-based fillings could include stewed or fresh fruit (apples, cherries, apricots, chopped lemon, etc.), jam, quark or cottage cheese. The buns may be plain and stuffed with the filling, or else be made in a free-form style with strips of dough decoratively encasing the filling."

Pirozhki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What looks closest to Polish pierogy is probably pelmeni, but in Russia those are ( classically) stuffed with beef mixed with pork and can be topped either with sour cream or vinegar mixed with salt and butter. Goes well with vodka too I suppose. And talking about vodka - I should mention the honorable salted herring and marinated mushrooms - a must thing before the main course dishes, which are mostly meat and potatoes or potatoes and meat in different variations. Baked fish ( sturgeon) is awesome though.

Another thing that might be close to pierogy is actually what's called "vareniki," but that's... not serious. I am not sure what different kind of "cheese" (in terms of stuffing) Viribusinitis was talking about, but in Russia the staple for this kind of filling is "tvorog" ( I guess it's called "quark" in German,) and it's a very versatile dairy product in terms of cooking, (or just simply eating it fresh from the market with milk or sour-cream. )
Another thing - Russian cuisine uses a lot of hot cereal of different kind - buckwheat, millet, barley, cream of wheat ( yes, it warms you up.)

Oh, and Russian desserts came mostly from France couple of centuries ago and Central Asia ( things like Khalva and other stuff.)
Since all this stuff is super-sweet, it gives you an excuse to drink a lot of tea in the kitchen and discuss all the juicy gossips/politics ( depending on personal preference) with whoever will drop by your place that evening.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:34 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Kind of. Stuffed cabbage leaves are pretty widespread, and are found even in Romania. Pirozhki/pirogi are found in several countries. Blintzes. So there are a few items that are "international" in the region, but there's local cuisine, too.
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Old 11-30-2013, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erasure View Post
I am not sure what different kind of "cheese" (in terms of stuffing) Viribusinitis was talking about, but in Russia the staple for this kind of filling is "tvorog" ( I guess it's called "quark" in German,) and it's a very versatile dairy product in terms of cooking, (or just simply eating it fresh from the market with milk or sour-cream. )
The dish I was talking about is not filled with cheese, but rather tossed in a cheese sauce. The taste of the cheese is much more pungent than Quark ("Topfen" in Austria ). It's called Bryndza/Brimsen.

Bryndza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The dish looks like that:

File:Bryndzové halu

Which basically looks the same as Kasnockerl/Kasspatzn from Austria:

http://www.tradebit.de/usr/stock-pho...02/1253586.jpg

But each dish tastes differently because of the cheese they use. It's now up to interpretation, if those dishes are "basically the same" and "lack variety". They are not, in my opinion. Sure, they look the same and use the same kind of small dumplings/noodles/whatever, but the taste of the cheese makes it a completely different experience. And since the cheese is not really available somewhere else in CEE, I'd consider it quite distinctive and unique in a way.

The same is true for Carinthian Kasnudeln, Tyrolean Schlutzkrapfen and Italian Ravioli. Heck, you could even throw Swabian Maultaschen into that group of foods. Looks the same, tastes completely different.

http://static2.kleinezeitung.at/syst...rkueche308.jpg
http://www.folioverlag.com/pics/even...utzkrapfen.jpg
http://retete30minute.files.wordpres...04/ravioli.jpg
http://www.buerger.de/uploads/pics/Maultaschen.jpg

I guess the reason why many people assume that Central and Eastern European cuisine lacks variety, is tasteless and is a hell of a lot more boring than French or Italian dishes is just because of the fact that they have no clue about those cuisines.

Man... with the hangover I have right now, I'm definitely craving a hearty goulash or a borsht more than a Minestrone from the super awesome, "non plus ultra" Italian cuisine.
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Old 11-30-2013, 01:26 PM
 
15,856 posts, read 14,264,897 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viribusunitis View Post
The dish I was talking about is not filled with cheese, but rather tossed in a cheese sauce. The taste of the cheese is much more pungent than Quark ("Topfen" in Austria ). It's called Bryndza/Brimsen.

Bryndza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The dish looks like that:

File:Bryndzové halu

Which basically looks the same as Kasnockerl/Kasspatzn from Austria:

http://www.tradebit.de/usr/stock-pho...02/1253586.jpg

But each dish tastes differently because of the cheese they use. It's now up to interpretation, if those dishes are "basically the same" and "lack variety". They are not, in my opinion. Sure, they look the same and use the same kind of small dumplings/noodles/whatever, but the taste of the cheese makes it a completely different experience. And since the cheese is not really available somewhere else in CEE, I'd consider it quite distinctive and unique in a way.

The same is true for Carinthian Kasnudeln, Tyrolean Schlutzkrapfen and Italian Ravioli. Heck, you could even throw Swabian Maultaschen into that group of foods. Looks the same, tastes completely different.
Gotcha. My guess is that it's a relative of Bulgarian brynza that I used to eat in Russia ( it was the cheapest kind of cheese, practically inedible for many because it was awfully salty, but the trick was to soak it in hot water for 20 min or so, and then it was awesome as far as I was concerned. )
This family of cheeses would give a dish a very different flavor comparably to many other dishes stuffed with *cheese* - that I understand.


Quote:
I guess the reason why many people assume that Central and Eastern European cuisine lacks variety, is tasteless and is a hell of a lot more boring than French or Italian dishes is just because of the fact that they have no clue about those cuisines.
I have no opinion of Eastern/Central European cuisine, since I am not familiar with it at all, but I definitely like French.

Quote:
Man... with the hangover I have right now, I'm definitely craving a hearty goulash or a borsht more than a Minestrone from the super awesome, "non plus ultra" Italian cuisine.
I never understood the appeal of Italian cuisine, although America seems to be in love with it.
I was not impressed with it either in Italy ( well home-made cooking was good I suppose,) or in the US (American pizza is the only exception I guess, since I like it more than in Italy, actually.)
And a choice between borcht and minestrone? That's an easy one, even without any hangover - I just have to look out of the window and see the snow. ( Quite a few German descendents who live in this area asked me a for a recipe))))
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Old 11-30-2013, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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My Polish friend says one of their national staple dishes is bread soaked in water and lard. No thanks lol.
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
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I lived in Bavaria for several years and traveled a lot throughout central and Eastern Europe. One thing I noticed that was markedly different when I visited Slovakia and Poland is that many of their tomato based foods have a lot of cinnamon in them and are much sweeter than further west. Let's just say that "spaghetti with meat sauce" is not at ALL what a typical western European or American would expect! Good - but definitely different.

Also, the traditional Czech Christmas dinner is CARP. The big thing is to go to the outdoor market where there are big tubs of carp swimming around in the freezing cold water. Pick out your carp, like we pick out lobsters at a restaurant, and they dress and prepare the carp right there for you to take home and fix.

The Christmas Carp, A Czech Tradition

You won't find carp on many tables during Christmas outside of this region!
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Minsk, Belarus
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17 Bizarre Foods Every Russian Grew Up With


I can say that most of them are also very popular here in Belarus, though I personally do not like some of them.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:05 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmel View Post
17 Bizarre Foods Every Russian Grew Up With


I can say that most of them are also very popular here in Belarus, though I personally do not like some of them.
Why are these "bizarre"? Many of these are great! Kompot is fabulous! And someone's turning up their nose at caviar and sour cream?! I'll tell you what's gross--German blood sausage! "German cuisine" is an oxymoron. Russian cuisine is sublime! Beef stroganoff, anyone? Light, flaky, baked mini-pirozhki filled with meat & herbs, or salmon, or mushrooms and rice, as appetizers? Cheese blintzes with raspberry jam and sour cream? Homemade sour cream, that is--the best! Baked or lightly fried sturgeon? It's considered a rare delicacy in California, where there's a native sturgeon. And here's a rare delicacy for you: reindeer sausage! Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! VERY tasty, and NO fat! It's great as a sandwich meat. Not part of the typical Russian/Slavic cuisine, though...
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