Tag Archives: baked goods

How to Sugar Potica

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Slovenian
Age: 52
Residence: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Date of Performance/Collection: 2014-04-28
Primary Language:
Other Language(s): Slovenian, English, German

Potica is a traditional Slovenian nut roll made from walnuts, coffee, rum, lemon, and caramel served around Christmas and Easter, as a celebration of Christ. After it is baked, it must be chilled, then flipped rising-side down, sliced, and dusted with sugar on the flat side of the loaf. My grandmother always said that if you dusted the loaf on the wrong side, you offened God’s tastebuds.

My grandmother is a very religious woman, as are most member of my extended family. In fact, much of that side of my mother’s family is populated with clergy members. She was also a chef when she was younger, so she developed a devout sensibility for food. She taught my mother this sugar technique, who in turn taught me the same practice. Now potica tastes worse if it is sugared on the wrong side.

Filipino ensaymada (cheese bread roll)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Half Filipino-American, half white
Age: 21
Occupation: Graduate student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/27/2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Dough: flour, melted butter, whole eggs, yeast?, cream of tartar for texture
Form the dough
Let it rise once
Separate it into clumps
Roll it out so each clump is very flat
Brush it with semi-soft butter — very, very buttery
Flat piece of dough is rolled into a cylinder and then coiled into the roll, adding parmesan cheese and sugar to the inside of the coil
Afterward doing that with all the rolls, let them rise again
Left to bake — afterward, brush with more melted butter and roll with more cheese and sugar

The informant ate it growing up whenever she went to her lola’s (grandmother’s) house, who would make it as snack food (symbol of hospitality). It was one of the many snacks she’d make whenever the informant and her sister would visit amongst the summer.

Ensaymada is definitely a Filipino dish, found in bakeries both big and small. Everywhere has a different take on it but obviously, “my grandmother’s is the best.” When the informant got older, her lola would try teaching it to them by making it in front of them and they’d help mix the ingredients and form the rolls, but she doesn’t exactly know what goes into the dough. Her lola would even mail these rolls to both the informant’s mother and her, because she said “You guys don’t do it right.”

The informant is one of my housemates. She isn’t really involved in Filipinio cultural practices, but does have deep connections to family who are. She told me the story of her lola in conversation.

Filipino culture, like many Asian cultures, is very food-centric — additionally, it’s fun to collaborate and plan meals together, but these meals also symbolized hospitality and, in the informant’s case, grandmotherly love, a way to keep her there even when she wasn’t physically present. In the informant’s words: “It’s one thing to share your meal times with us, but it’s another thing to have a physical symbol of ‘your house is my house’.”