As I write this, my keyboard is taking on a sheen and smokey aroma from the pork fat on my fingers. I’m working diligently to ensure my afternoon’s haul from the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market doesn’t survive into the evening.
Karpatskaya, Pastrami Budapesht, Estonskaya
BHFM is going through some pretty serious renovations (perhaps feeling threatened by the arrival of Super H in Atlanta). As such, I’ve been having a hard time finding things. But today, this all worked out for the best as I stumbled upon a new (at least to me) Eastern European deli counter in the middle of the store.
My Ukrainian heritage has always been a bit of a mystery to me – my grandmother refused to speak of it, angry and traumatized by her escape during the revolution, and the Soviets did a less than stellar job of record keeping on those killed, imprisoned, or who knows. And so it is that whenever I stumble upon authentic items from Eastern Europe, I am drawn to them with a mixture of curiosity, fear and apprehension. I am an outsider – I don’t know how to act or even what to ask – perhaps it’s because I feel I should know and the fact that I don’t haunts me.
So I rely on my rudimentary ability to read Cyrillic and struggle to find cognates in English, French and Latin. I point and mumble my requests, praying my pronunciation isn’t too far off and hoping that I can hide what I was told was a slight Siberian accent (Mrs. Savitskaya, my Russian teacher in junior high school was a patient Mongolian woman from the border with Siberia – my grandmother refused to speak Russian with me after hearing my accent).
So, now that we’ve established that I have issues, what’s the point? Salumi. Two cases full. From the salami and pastrami pictured at the top to smoked pork belly, head cheese pork rolls, kielbasa, on and on. And then there are cheeses, pastries and cakes. If you love charcuterie and haven’t experienced what the Eastern Europeans have to offer, just go, point and mumble. Grab a jar of pickled mushrooms and some blazing hot Russian mustard and I promise a rich, fatty, delicious and obviously cathartic experience.