House full of pies
[b]‘Na pososhok’ (or ‘let’s drink a parting cup’) — is a well known phrase at the table. From where does it originate? I’ve never considered it before, but, owing to Tamara Sinyakova from the village of Lyady (in the Dubrovno district) I’ve seen and tasted this ‘pososhok’! Tamara is a hereditary karavainitsa (round loaf maker)[/b]Karavainitsa is not a profession; it’s more of a vocation. Women able to bake pies and other delicious foods, without which no holiday is complete, are revered for their talent. They tend to share their recipe secrets only with their heirs; those wishing to penetrate the mystery of making wedding pies and other authentic dishes, must be patient, determined and strong.
Karavainitsa is not a profession; it’s more of a vocation. Women able to bake pies and other delicious foods, without which no holiday is complete, are revered for their talent. They tend to share their recipe secrets only with their heirs; those wishing to penetrate the mystery of making wedding pies and other authentic dishes, must be patient, determined and strong.
“Of course, you can buy a cake from a shop but, previously, they were only hand made,” stresses Ms. Sinyakova, the Director of the Lyady Village Culture House. “In our family, my grandmother, Domna Yefimovna, my father’s mother, was a master of baking. She was a true karavainitsa and was much respected in the village. She was obliged never to quarrel, since this could cause the dough (a living, capricious substance) not to rise and be tasty.” Domna would rise at 3am to knead her dough secretly and in a peaceful atmosphere. Loud noises would disturb the process. “When I tried to peep into the kitchen to see what my granny was doing, I was immediately bundled out of the room,” recalls Tamara. “I had to learn from my own mistakes. I’m very thankful to my mother, Tatiana Mikhailovna, who gave me several sacks of flour.”
Ms. Sinyakova is a true professional now, and keeps her grandmothers’ secrets. “Domna Yefimovna had 27 large cast iron frying pans, nine of which could be placed simultaneously in her Russian oven. Moreover, my granny was able to drive the heat upwards at a certain moment. I still cannot understand how she did this,” says Tamara.
Returning to ‘na pososhok’ I can tell you that a posokh was a freshly baked roll filled with poppy seeds: very tasty! After eating pancakes with curd, a large plate of posokhs was presented to signal the end of the meal — since hosts would never be impolite enough to tell their guests when it was time to leave. This is where the phrase ‘na pososhok’ comes from.
Many ancient ceremonies are still observed in Lyady, including wedding rites. Newly-weds are ‘taken to water’ while parents who are giving their last child in the family for marriage are beaten with wheat sheaves on their backs. Additionally, a huge, round wedding loaf decorated with the shape of apple twigs is cooked. It is eaten by the guests on the second day, to ensure happiness. “The apple tree is a symbol of fertility,” explains Ms. Sinyakova. “Some believe that dough twigs bring happiness, so can be kept for many years. However, when I was a child, they were so tasty that we tended to eat them!”
Those who leave Lyady and those getting married ask Tamara to bake a round loaf for them. Her bakery is well known in the Vitebsk region and has been welcomed at Polish Łуdź festival. Ms. Sinyakova attended with the Dubrovenskiya Prysmaki Folk Club. “The road to Russia goes via Lyady, so a roadside cafй selling ‘prysmaki’ (delights) would be extremely popular,” dreams Tamara.
Thinking of who might inherit her granny’s culinary secrets, she notes that her niece, Nastya, or son, Ivan, could take up the baton. It’s important for Belarusian legacies to be passed down.
By Sergey Golesnik
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