Friday, 12 July 2013

Athens, 1963 (Αθήνα, 1963)

Back in 1963 in Athens, you could get piroshki at a souvlaki shop, filled with mince, cheese, sausage or potato.

Piroski and Krapfen are on the menu of this souvlaki store in Monastiraki, 1963.
Photo: Nicholas Econopouly (thanks to Matt Barrett for granting me permission to use it)
These don't of course feature on any menu these days, although... they have morphed into different snacks. Mince and/or potato pies are a rarity in Greek snack shops, but you can find mince-filled bougatsa in Northern Greece. Tiropita (cheese pie) has always been a popular favorite all over Greece. The present-day loukanikopita is probably based on something similar to the tasty sausage piroshki.

Piroshki were introduced to Greece by the Hellenic diaspora living in the northeast of Europe, what we generally like to call the former USSR or Russia these days. They seem to have been forgotten over the years, but the more recent Russian migrants to Greece are now bringing them back into circulation in large urban centres. However, they are still seen as something rather exotic than commonplace, as this ad for a Russian piroski store in Athens suggests (dated December 2012):

And if you felt like something sweet, back in 1963 Athens, you could have krapfen with marmalade (note the spelling mistake on the sign - it says 'KRAPFEM'), which hasn't been heard of in a while... under that name, at least. Although 'loukoumas' is generally known as the Greek-style doughnut with a hole in the middle and covered in crystallised sugar, marmalade-filled no-hole krapfen are still around. They are known as a 'doughnut' now, but judging from the original name that they went by, they probably made their appearance in WW2. 1963 was still considered a very post-war period in Greece as the country had only just got over our civil war a decade before that.

Greek cuisine has always been a dynamic cuisine, picking up the good bits of all those who have passed through the country.

UPDATE: See Uli's note in the comments: "Krapfen might have come before WWII - together with the Bavarian King Otto back in the early 19th century, because the word is used in southern Germany only..."

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  1. My Ukrainian mother-in-law used to make wonderful piroshki...

  2. I think, that "Krapfen" might have come before WWII - together with the Bavarian King Otto back in the early 19th century. Because the word is used in southern Germany only...

  3. and you are probably right - ww2 was too short for such an infiltration - thanks, i will add this as an update

  4. Has "souvlaki" always been made with pork?

    1. definitely not - it started off mainly as beef, but as pork became cheaper to produce, it began to be made with that instead - but now you can get all sorts of meat for your souvlaki, including sausage, bifteki, kebab and soutzoukakia - it's still the best and chepaest junk food in greece

  5. Piroshki - we call them "pierożki" or "pierogi" in Polish. They look exectly as your kalitsounia and could filled with mashed potatoes and cottage cheese (this type we call "Russian pierogi" but in Russia they are called Polish :)) - my Ukrainian grandmother showed me how to make them. Also filled with mince meat or sour cabbage with wild mushrooms.