According to him, cookies can be called the most universal Christmas food, suitable for vegans and omnivores. Looking at the history of this dish, it can be seen that in the last century, in some homes, small children were fed not only with poppy seeds, but also with almond milk, which is now common to us. However, they like to be combined with things that are hard to imagine today: cheese, butter and even bacon.
Julius Kalinskas / 15min photo/Rimvydas Laužikas
When Christmas approaches, with Prof. With R. Laužikus, we talk about kučiukis – the most imaginable Lithuanian Christmas table dish.
– Now it seems that puppies are definitely on the Christmas table. But is this true? Remember how a small child entered the kitchen of a Lithuanian citizen? When did they become a traditional Christmas table dish?
– Pučučići is probably one of the oldest meals on the Christmas table. This is typical only for Lithuanian Christmas and also for the surrounding areas of Lithuania. Reading the old description of the Christmas table, we read the same – like the Christmas tree – the same in most Christmas tables in the homes of the poor and the richest. This will be a sign that this food has a ceremonial meaning. After all, small bread is convenient to share, and sharing bread is one of the most important ancient rites of various holidays, including the Christian St. For the masses.
One of the oldest is in Łukasz Gołębiowski’s book “Houses and Manors…” (Polish: “Domy Ł dwory…”) from 1830. The author describes wheat flour mixed with poppy seeds, called sližikis in Lithuania. When eating, it is poured with poppy or cow’s milk, it can be seasoned with cheese, bacon, butter or jam. So, sližički Golębiowski is a reasonable daily dish, the description indicates fasting by mentioning that it is eaten filled with poppy seed milk.
In historical gastronomy, during fasting, dairy products of animal origin are replaced by vegetable milk. Usually – with poppy milk, and in rich houses – also with almond milk. It is interesting that in the description of houses from the 19th century, we actually find that “puppy soup” is mentioned more than once.
During fasting, dairy products of animal origin are replaced by plant milk: poppy, and in wealthy households, almond milk.
Mikalojus Katkus remembers that in the vicinity of Kėdainiai, poppy milk and custard are eaten with a spoon, like a cold “soup”: “…poppy milk is put with sugar or honey and custard is added to the milk.. “. Sometimes pieces of the Christmas tree are sprinkled into the soup. Motiejus Valančius wrote about this in “Palangas Juze”, where during a shopping trip in the parish of Šaukėnai, the village of Žygaičiai, to the farmer Jonas Motuz “… the daughters put beans, peas and wheat on the table with sweet soup, in the remaining there are small pieces of bread…”.
Liudvikas Adomas Jucevičius also mentions that “sweet soup, with small dumplings still dripping” is strange for us, people of today. According to him, one of the most important foods is a cold and sweet soup made from wheat grains boiled in water, with pieces of Christmas tree floating on them. Somewhere it is mentioned that puppies should be fed with sweet water.
Only old puppies can seem strange to many of us, who are used to baked puppies from yeast dough, back in the day. Mainly because at least some of it is cooked.
According to Mikalojus Katkaus, for them “…the dough is kneaded hard, rolled into long rolls, cut into walnut-sized pieces and boiled in water. After scooping out of the water and cooling, it is added to the poppy milk… “and make a sweet Christmas cake. The little boiled balls are slippery, really justifying the name šližiks.
Puppies in those days (at least some) were not fried, but boiled.
– Are there any small dogs that are common in Lithuania? Are they made and called the same everywhere?
– In ancient times, small dogs were called variously: kleckels, galkutės, parpeluks, skrūčius, sližikis, etc. In interwar Lithuania, there was an attempt to establish the name “preskučiai”.
In one form or another, they are known throughout Lithuania. However, in some areas, other baked goods, which are suitable for sharing, are generally side by side or even absent. For example, in Southern Lithuania, a ruined place – “lamanci” – is known. They are described by the above magazine “Moteris” in the issue of December 1936 (here also called preskuts): “Good wheat flour, water, a little sugar and poppy seeds are used to knead the dough that is not hard. The dough is rolled out into a thin sheet. and spread it on a baking sheet, then put the sheet in the oven when the bread or cake is baked, keep it in the oven until it is very dry – it will be cooked, that is, if it breaks. well. After removing it from the oven, the pretzel is broken into small pieces.”
In some other regions of Lithuania, dumplings with poppy filling are baked, and in other places, pies with mushroom filling.
– What is the classic recipe for kučikukus, what ingredients do you need?
– Like most old recipes, how to make kuchuksi depends on the particular housewife. Nothing is “correct”. Of course, only a few ingredients are used in kučučki, and the dish is also ceremonial. This limits the possibility of improvisation of the housewife. However, the first “correct” recipes appeared together with the writing and distribution in the press. It was only printed in the 1934 Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Society magazine “Moteris”, in the December edition, among the recommended Christmas dishes.
And this recipe will surprise many of us by not complying with strict fasting requirements. Accordingly, you must:
- 400 gr. flour;
- 30 gr. yeast;
- ½ glass of milk;
- 3 gr. salt;
- 50 gr. sugar;
- 75 gr. butter;
- 1 egg…”.
And made like this:
- “Dissolve yeast with sugar. Mix flour, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and yeast and knead the dough. When it has risen, roll it into a thin ball, cut it into squares, dry it on the shoulder until it turns yellow..”. Because it is eaten with poppy milk, it must be “…Sifted dry so that there is no flour and so that the milk is not cloudy, after straining it must be cold….”
However, in 1935, in the December edition of the same magazine, we will find a different recipe, “corrected” – the kučiuk (pretzel) recipe has met the fasting requirements: “For pretzels, mix the dough from water, flour, salt, a little sugar and yeast.” When mixing, you can knead together, or let the dough rise first and then knead. Allow up again. Prepare sausages and fries; it tastes better when it’s fresh.” Also eaten with poppy seed milk.
– What makes us eat cookies on Christmas Eve, even though we have forgotten and adapted some other traditions?
– This is probably because of the meaning of this dish ceremony. The biggest change in the Christmas table happened between the wars, but it was still small. Maybe it’s the same throughout Lithuania, everyone is flour and yeast baked goods. Today, it seems to have become the main dish of the Christmas table, which is characteristic of religious families and secular Christmas. In some sense, its popularity is also shown by the fact that it is produced industrially and sold in supermarkets.
I joke that the first sign of Christmas coming is not the Christmas tree in the city square, but the puppies appearing on the supermarket shelves.