Next Up: Derelye

Reader Jen, a longtime correspondent and frequent collaborator, suggested that I consider pasta as a corona project. It’s a very good idea. Pasta is, after all, practically tailor made for times of scarcity. All you really need is flour and water, maybe some eggs. I pondered the idea for a few days, and came close to dismissing it. I’ve already done pasta (though it was quite a while ago and the photos aren’t very good), and anyway most of what I do on the blog here is sweet.

And…whammo.

I flashed back to elementary school. Back then I was close friends with a pair of Hungarian brothers. I frequently hung out at their house, up in their tiny shag-carpeted bedroom where they listened to ABBA records almost nonstop. Occasionally they’d invite me to stay for dinner, which was a generally confusing affair for an 11-year-old, with little on the plate that was familiar. Even the cottage cheese was different. Add to that the language the family spoke, which contained no reference points at all for a non-speaker (Hungarian, not being a Romance language, gives up no clues). But their mom was a stellar cook, so I never left hungry. One particular Sunday, she opened my eyes to what were then two shattering concepts. First, that Italians didn’t own pasta as a thing. And second, that pasta could be sweet.

Hungarians, I eventually came to realize, enjoy pasta almost as much as Italians do, but unlike Italians, tend to serve it at the end of a meal instead of at the beginning, and then as a sweet. Often with nuts, generally with a little — or a lot — of sugar on top. They even make a kind of ravioli out of it, derelye (DEH-re-ye is, I think, the pronunciation), which are utterly addictive. Sometimes called “friar’s ears”, they are half-moon shaped in the way that many hand pies are, filled with jam or sweet cheese, and served on small plates in a butter-and-toasted-bread-crumb sauce.

…which is all starting to make my mouth water. So thanks Jen, for a great idea, one that took me down a memory lane I hadn’t strolled in years, maybe decades. I’ll need to looks those guys up! But in the meantime, let’s get to it, shall we?

10 thoughts on “Next Up: Derelye”

  1. Oh, yes…

    I have two Hungarian workmates who, when asked about Hungarian cuisine, light up like neon as the talk about food. They say Hungarian cuisine is humble yet refined… and “world food”. I cook only a few Hungarian dishes and, despite not knowing if I’ve nailed them or not, can’t get enough.

    But never had Hungarian pasta so… show me… please!

    1. Hey Brian!

      I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a few Hungarians in my life, and yes, they’re all very proud of the food. There are good reasons for that, which I’ll get into a bit over the course of the week.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Joe

  2. Made linguine the first time a few weeks ago, no matter how thin you roll it, its 4 time thicker than store bought. So good!

    Thought that I’d do lasagna next, but this sound WAY intriguing! Lead the way!

  3. Joe, I have been following your blog for years, I have learned so much from you that just adds to what I acquired at Culinary school. I worked in hotels like you but got badly burned out and quit. Your blog got me back in the kitchen after all that tedium and stress that resulted in me losing my passion for baking for quite a long time. I was utterly heartbroken when I clicked your link a few weeks ago that came back Error 404.

    So, I am beyond happy that you have returned and are baking again. Thank you for bringing your blog back.

    I look forward to more fun from your blog. Thank you brightening up my day – you have no idea how much fun I have in the kitchen with your blog as a buddy. 🙂

    1. Hey Therese!

      You really made my day with that, thank you. If the blog helped rekindle your love of baking after some bad experiences, well then I’m greatly honored. Truly.

      The way hospitality is portrayed on food shows, it looks like never-ending fun. Obviously those of us who’ve spent real time in the industry know that when it’s bad, it can be hellish. My wife still has nightmares about a horrible (yet famous) restaurant in Chicago where she briefly worked in her college years, making garnishes for the pastry department. Just a couple months in that environment almost ruined her enthusiasm for cooking generally.

      I myself was lucky to have worked in a couple of really great places, which helped me forget about the few bad ones. So I’m glad you got out with your health and your sanity, and that you’re back to baking for the love of it. Does my heart good!

      Your friend,

      Joe

  4. I would appreciate if you could add a recipe for Crostoli (Italian fried pastries) and Italian Almond Bread (thin almost wafer slices). Thinner than your recipe for Biscotti. Thanks.

  5. Sorry, Joe – time has lost all meaning, it seems, and I suddenly realized it had been “ages” (a couple of weeks?) since I popped back here! What a lovely surprise 🙂 I’m especially delighted because I was looking at your old pasta posts not that long ago, and what stuck in my mind is your assurance back then that you wouldn’t inflict dessert pasta on us. As someone whose idea of childhood bliss was swirling up leftover spaghetti with jam and sour cream, I’m glad to see you’ve come around to the idea 😉

    1. This is ethnic so it’s different. 😉

      I think we can both agree that there are some pretty hideous dessert pastas out there. Chocolate fettuccini Alfredo, dessert lasagna with whipped cream and strawberries, white chocolate ramen bark…I mean just eye-watering, wretched stuff. You can’t blame me for not wanting to pop the cap on that. Can you?

      The jam and sour cream I could live with though. Might try that this week actually.

      Joe

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