April 12, 2013
Thanks to Eater, I was amused to see kolaches are being heralded as the next big thing in pastries. I'm still in shock from going on the Food Network back in the Nineties to promote my little Squash book and learning I was not the only New Yorker who even knew what the things are. I developed a taste for them while living in Nebraska after dropping out of college; my interviewer on that show, Rudy Giuliani's then-wife Donna Hanover, turned out to be the daughter of a Czech immigrant. I'm guessing she'd be as surprised as I am to see Texas claiming kolaches' fame. To me they're rooted firmly in the Midwest. I just pulled out my battered New York Times Heritage Cook Book and found the only recipes are from Iowa (that is one great collection of regional flavors, BTW). But I will always associate them with Lincoln, where a co-worker named Libby Vlach would always bake and share them. (I like the sound of the recipe with this Nebraska feature because it calls for lard, although the NYT one suggests duck fat, which would also be great.) Put too simply, they're the Czech translation of a Danish, with a yeast dough and a fruit or cheese filling. And I could see them taking off. But never overtaking the cupcake. Let alone the macaron. My photo is of a spread with a photo by the amazing Deborah Jones.
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