Before I moved to Texas, I had neither heard of nor tried the following three food items: 1) breakfast tacos 2) queso (as in the dip; I did know it meant “cheese” in Spanish and 3) kolaches. Over the course of my first year living in Austin, I tried all of the aforementioned in that order. In so doing, I quickly discovered I love breakfast tacos, have mixed feelings when it comes to queso, and am thoroughly bemused by kolaches for several reasons.
First, every time I think I have figured out the "right" way to say kolache, someone corrects me on my pronunciation. This has occurred twice when I was about to order a dozen of the damn things—and FYI to the businesspeople of the world, informing a potential customer she doesn't even really know what she's buying doesn't make her particularly eager to complete the transaction.
Second, when it comes to the fillings, at this point is it no holds barred? In the past, it seemed there was at least some impulse to stick with only fruit or breakfast proteins in keeping with tradition (though Czechs will argue that if that the circular pastry in question contains meat, it really is a klobasnek). I am not objecting to this practice; it just adds to my confusion about kolaches.
And this ever-evolving variety of stuffings brings me to my third point: If it's kosher now to have pizza kolaches or chow mein kolaches, then must we really continue to relegate them to a breakfast-only item?
A few days ago, in the midst of my almost-daily lunchtime stop at Circle K for a large hot tea, I noticed an advertisement for “Thanksgiving” kolaches, which purportedly contained, as you might expect, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Although I usually don't have even moderately high hopes for convenience store food, the picture of the kolache cross-section looked somewhat promising.
“One Thanksgiving kolache, please,” I said to Krissy*, the amiable clerk. “Sorry, honey,” she replied. “We only have them for breakfast.”
I must have looked so dismayed that Krissy followed up quickly in pity, “But I have a hot drawer, so I can save you one and give it to you tomorrow.” Well, I'm never one to decline an offer that involves a "hot drawer."
When I picked up my Thanksgiving kolache the next day (thank you, Krissy), the exterior was significantly browner, almost burnt, than that in the ad illustration. Chalking up the darkened hue to its stay in the hot drawer, I proceeded to cut the kolache in half to get a good look at its contents. I spotted a vague smear of cranberry, approximately one desiccated strip of white turkey meat, and no dressing. In fact, only more bread made up the majority of the filling as if it were a kolache stuffed with a kolache stuffed with a kolache....Matryoshka Kolache?!?
What does a Matryoshka Kolache taste like? A very chewy ball of dough with a soupçon of turkey and tart berry flavor. “Gross, right?” said Krissy when she saw my disappointment. Yep.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of Circle K employee