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Potato Dishes from the Land of Dracula

Potato dishes from the land known as that of Dracula -- Transylvania

Shoemaker's Dohnuts -- Suszterpánkó

Ingredients: potatoes and salt

My father's father was a shoemaker. (One of the best in town, of course.) This is the way he baked his potatoes, that's why they are called Shoemaker's Dohnuts.

Peel potatoes and slice them about 1.5 cm thick. (If your potatoes are small, it sufficeth to just cut them in half, lengthwise.) Pour some salt in your hands, rub them together, and then lightly rub the potatoes. Bake them on the crates. When the delicious smell of baked potatoes fills your kitchen, it might be time to remove them. Check, and if they are puffed up like dohnuts and they have a nice gold color, remove and serve immediately.

This has been one of the most popular dinners of my family, especially on winter nights, when we served the potatoes with the juice of our homemade pickled cabbage. (American palates might prefer the butter and pepper version, though. ...Try drinking milk with it. Quite tasty.)

Layered Potatoes -- Rakottkrumpli

potatoes, eggs, smoked sausage, sour cream (full fat!), some butter, a little bit of bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper.

Boil and peel potatoes and eggs (the best ratio is 1:1), let cool then slice. (As thin as you can handle: potatoes about 0.5 cm; eggs, no comment.) Butter all sides of a deep pan, pour in the breadcrumbs and shake the pan till it's nicely coated. (I know you've got a dishwasher, but back in my days it was quite the task to scrub the pan out.) From here on, the preparation is sheer fun: all you do is artfully layer the ingredients in the pan. Start with one layer of potatoes (salt and pepper), then eggs (salt and pepper), and then the thinly sliced sausage, topped with a generous amount of sour cream. Repeat process.

When the pan is full, finish with a layer of sour cream, and then grate cheese on the top. Bake till the cheese melts and gains a bit of color.

This was also a favorite among my family (in fact, I can't recall a potato dish that wasn't popular). We served it year round, but there was a time of the year when we could be almost certain that everybody else in town is eating the same thing: on Easter Monday. That is the day when men of all ages go around town, "watering" the girls and women. (In olden times they were dropping buckets of water on them, but those "barbaric days" are gone; now they just sprinkle them with cologne.) Traditionally, the women thank the "waterers" by giving them each a colored egg and/or a little something to drink.

Needless to say that by the end of the day the males of the family have gathered an impressive amount of colored eggs (and the teens and adults are quite drunk; but that is a different story). And what else can you do with boiled eggs (unless you want to devil them)? Layered potatoes. (It's kinda fun after Easter: accidents do happen, and if the dye leaked in, your dish might resemble a rainbow.)

Story and recipes: Iren Bencze