written several times now about fair food, those mostly deep-fried
delicacies available only on carnival midways. They're usually
yummy, always fattening, and the same items are available from
Houston to Omaha, with minor regional differences.
delightful diversity rears its head, however, is with food
festivals. A great example was the 13th Annual Czech Kolache/Klobase
Festival I attended two weeks ago in the small town of East
Bernard, out among the verdant farm fields of southeast Texas,
some 40 miles outside Houston.
Bernard is a Czech enclave, and the first indication that I was
among these fine, if somewhat self-effacing folk came at the city
limits, where a large sign festooned with Lions, Rotary and other
club emblems proclaimed East Bernard to be "A Good Place To
Live." Not "Great," not "Fantastic," but
good. That's the sort of statement a fellow can get behind. Folks
who say things like that at the city limits must have the
confidence that what lies within them won't need many superlatives
laid out to make it shine.
Hall, where the whole shebang took place, was your usual
multifunction sort of small-town gathering place, with a big
kitchen/serving area attached to a huge gathering room with a
stage. Within 25 minutes of arriving and meeting the lovely and
charming Martha Viktorin, who showed me "behind the
scenes" doings on the kolache end of things, I was ensconced
with my wife and some townsfolk in the gathering room, dining on a
plate lunch made up of the finest sauerkraut and sausage I've ever
put in my mouth, and creamer potatoes cooked in real butter.
OK, so it
wasn't exactly what the Surgeon General ordered, but it was mighty
tasty stuff. It was followed, of course, by a few kolaches for
you who aren't blessed with a Czech presence in your community are
by this point just about ready to hurt me badly if I don't explain
exactly what a kolache is.
is a simple yeast roll that's either topped or filled with a
variety of toppings ranging from fruit to cream cheese to various
meats. There's even a traditional poppyseed filling that's
absolutely delicious. Basically, the kolache dough is a blank
slate upon which you can write your own flavoring
"signature." One of my personal favorites is a filled
kolache made by wrapping the dough around a hot Polish sausage. If
you let your imagination wander, you can come up with all sorts of
fillings. I've seen pepperoni-and-cheese, spinach-and-feta and
even egg-and-meat combinations eaten as breakfast treats.
find any number of kolache dough recipes online, but for Mrs.
Viktorin's family recipe, and dozens of other fantastic Czech
creations, call the Czech Family Singers at (979) 335-7907.
recall me mentioning the best sauerkraut I'd ever tasted. Like
most great family recipes, its true marvel is its simplicity.
4 slices bacon
˝ c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. flour
1 qt. sauerkraut
1 tsp. caraway seed
˝ c. water
and fry. Add chopped onion and sauté until tender. Add flour and
brown lightly. Add sauerkraut, caraway seed and water. Stir well
and cook until thickened. Great served with sausage or pork chops.