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8 Delicious Facts About Kolaches

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If you’ve lived in Texas (or are lucky enough to have a grandmother from Moravia) you may be familiar with kolaches, the Czech pastry made of yeasted dough and traditionally filled with apricot, prune, poppy seed, or sweet cheese. These delicious treats have a European heritage and a very American following deep in the heart of Texas—and lately, from coast to coast. Here are some facts for the kolache novice to nosh on.

1. IT ALL BEGAN WITH A WHEEL, A BALL OF DOUGH, AND A PLUM.

Always a must stop #CzechStop #West #WestTX #kolaches #klobasniks

A photo posted by Tim Fricke (@frickestyle) on

The word kolache (pronounced ko-LAH-chee, and also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky) is from the Czech and Slovak word for wheel. Legend has it that long ago, in the Czech Republic (then the Austro-Hungarian Empire), a mother was trying to bake bread, but her daughter Libuše kept pestering her. In an effort to appease her, Maminka (mother) gave the girl a small ball of dough to play with. Libuše happily rolled and flattened her dough, then snuck a plum from the table, slipped it into the dough ball, and put the dough into the oven with Maminka’s bread. When Libuše’s father came home from the fields for a snack, he grabbed Libuše’s creation, bit into it, and was squirted with scalding plum juice. Crazy with pain, he began hopping around in circles. Libuše found it all very funny and cried out, “Tatinek je do kola!” (“Daddy is making a wheel!”). The “kola” inspired the kolache.

2. PRAGUE, NEBRASKA HOLDS THE RECORD FOR WORLD’S LARGEST KOLACHE ...

In 1987, the community of Prague, Nebraska celebrated its centennial by baking a cherry-filled kolache that weighed 2605 pounds and measured 15 feet in diameter.

3. ... AND PRAGUE, OKLAHOMA HOSTS THE LARGEST KOLACHE FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD.

The Kolache Festival in Prague, Oklahoma is held the first Saturday of each May and attracts 30,000 people to a town of 2500. Women in the community begin baking kolaches months in advance; it's estimated that some 50,000 of the pastries are consumed during the festivities.

4. TEXAS IS THE KOLACHE CAPITAL OF THE U.S.

When Czech immigrants arrived in Texas in the mid- to late-19th century, they brought with them their culture—and their beloved pastry. The number of bakeries serving kolaches in Texas abound. While several towns claim to be The Kolache Capital of the state, the area that runs along Interstate 35 from Dallas to Austin boasts some of the most renowned kolache in Texas.

The Czech Stop in the small town of West, Texas is easily one of the most beloved kolache purveyors in the United States. This hot spot, opened in 1983 by former marine Bill Polk, made national news in 2013 when a fertilizer plant explosion rocked the small town of West and customers of the establishment raised over $200,000 for relief. It's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and ships daily in the winter months.  

5. 7-ELEVEN SERVES KOLACHES (BUT ONLY IN TEXAS).

There are two varieties available: Beef Sausage and Pork and Beef Sausage. These breakfast kolaches are filled with meat and are wrapped up in kolache dough. The meat technically makes them klobasniky, a Czech-by-way-of-Tex iteration that is wildly popular in kolache shops across Texas and beyond. (Regular kolaches only contain fruit.)

6.  THERE ARE ARTISANAL KOLACHES.

If you can’t get to Texas for a kolache, how about Brooklyn? The Brooklyn Kolache Company makes theirs from all natural, often organic, and locally-sourced ingredients. These kolaches have evolved beyond the classic and traditional to include a variety of modern fillings that include Pan de Coco; Chocolate Ganache; Spinach and Feta; and Sausage, Jalapeno, and Cheese. Their signature pastry, an Instagram favorite, is the King Cake. This Louisiana-style bun—made with cinnamon, butter, brown sugar, and sweet cream cheese—is all rolled up in kolache dough and topped with purple, green, and gold candied sugar for Mardi Gras. Republic Kolache and Bayou Bakery in Washington, D.C., take their King Cake one step further by inserting a baby figurine, per New Orleans tradition, into some of their pastry. Symbolically a good luck charm, finding one in your King Cake here entitles you to a free kolache.

7. A LITERARY ICON PAID HOMAGE TO THE KOLACHE.

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Willa Cather learned to make kolache from Annie Pavelka, her Czech neighbor in Nebraska. Pavelka was the inspiration for the eponymous character in My Antonia, a novel that immortalized the Czech immigrant experience on the American frontier. Cather is credited as saying, “If security could ever have a smell, it would be the fragrance of a warm Kolache.”

8. THE TASTY TREAT WAS MENTIONED IN THE AMERICANS.

The FX series gave a nod to kolaches in season 3’s penultimate episode. Are kolaches a clue for the viewer, or merely a subliminal ploy to make us hungry?

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Chefs Launch World's Highest Pop-Up Restaurant at Mt. Everest Base Camp
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A touch of altitude sickness shouldn't stand in the way of a good meal. At least that seems to be the idea behind a plan to serve a seven-course dinner to trekkers at Everest Base Camp, the gateway for those planning to climb Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The four chefs leading this trip hope it will land them a new Guinness World Record for the highest pop-up restaurant on the planet, according to Architectural Digest. At the end of May, the chefs will take 10 people on an eight-day trek from the town of Lukla (at an altitude of about 10,000 feet) to Everest Base Camp (at 11,600 feet), all while foraging along the way for ingredients that can be incorporated into the meal. (For a true luxury experience, guests also have the option of traveling by helicopter.) The full package of flights, accommodations, and meals costs about $5600 per person.

After reaching their destination, trekkers will get to sit back and enjoy a feast, which will be served inside a tent to protect diners against the harsh Himalayan winds. Indian chef Sanjay Thakur and others on his team say they want to highlight the importance of sustainability, and the money they raise will be donated to local charities. Thakur said most of the food will be cooked sous vide, which allows vacuum-packed food to be cooked in water over a long period of time.

"The biggest challenge, of course, will be the altitude, which will affect everything," Thakur tells Fine Dining Lovers. "Flavor [perception] will be decreased, so we will be designing a menu of extraordinary dishes accordingly, where spices will have the upper hand."

This isn't the first time an elaborate meal will be served at Everest Base Camp, though. According to Fine Dining Lovers, another chef launched a pop-up at the same spot in 2016, but it presumably wasn't registered with the Guinness Book of World Records. Other extreme restaurants include one carved into a limestone cliff in China, one dangling 16 feet above the ground in a rainforest in Thailand, and one submerged 16 feet below sea level in the Maldives.

[h/t Architectural Digest]

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Do You 'Procrastibake'? You're Not Alone
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The urge to put off tasks until the last minute is often accompanied by a nagging sense of guilt about not being productive. A new trend tackles both problems at once. It's called procrastibaking.

As The New York Times reports, procrastibaking, or throwing yourself into a baking project to distract yourself from an impending work deadline, is popular among students, telecommuters, and anyone else with access to an oven and who needs a creative outlet divorced from their actual work. Preparing a difficult recipe with many steps may feel like a chore when you're making it for someone else, but when you're baking for baking's sake, the process becomes meditative. Procrastibakers often choose the most complicated recipes they can find: More time in the kitchen means less time spent thinking about their term paper (or bar exam, freelance gig, tax filing, etc.).

According to Google Trends, interest in the term procrastibaking first spiked in April 2010. The word gained momentum on university campuses. A writer named Gabrielle reports in a 2012 blog post for the online law student community Survive Law that procrastibaking and legal education go hand in hand, "because if you’re going to spend time away from the books, you may as well have something cool (and edible) to show for it." In 2014, the linguistics department at Monash University posted a blog detailing the connections between the word and the student tradition of bringing baked goods to meetings.

Today procrastibaking appeals to expert time-wasters of all ages and occupations. There are currently 26,585 posts with the hashtag #procrastibaking on Instagram—check them out if you need some inspiration for ways to push off your next project.

[h/t The New York Times]

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