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The Bierock
July 13, 2007 10:07 AM   Subscribe

"Jim has speculated in past writings as to what creature might be named the official animal of the Great Plains. Here’s a more palatable question: what food might we designate most representative of life on the plains? I nominate the bierock, or as I sometimes call it, the German-Russian answer to the burrito. The bierock is a piece of sweet dough wrapped around a filling of cabbage, onions and beef (or whatever else you want to stuff into it) and baked. The bierock is a characteristic food of Germans from Russia on the southern plains from Texas to Kansas. Germans from Russia in the states from Nebraska north consume the same item, but they call it a runsa." Text excerpted from Plains Folk. II: Romance of the Landscape.
posted by cog_nate (30 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, you mean White people on the Great Plains, then.
posted by fish tick at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Last night, I had a buffalo burger. It was delicious.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2007


Great post (says the Kansan). Thanks.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2007


Dude, what about the kolache? IS THERE NO LOVE FOR THE KOLACHE?!
posted by Brittanie at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2007


are there still "runza huts" in nebraska?

i remember moving out there and wondering what the heck a runza was. i left before finding out. now i know.

thanks!
posted by subatomiczoo at 10:28 AM on July 13, 2007


Bierock! It's German for pasty!
posted by eriko at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2007


My mother's family was originally Germans from Russia. As a kid I despised beirock (which in our house were called submarines) as they were made by my mom every year to eat in the car while going camping. Lets see, I hated the car, I hated camping, and submarines symbolized both of these things.

And for the record, my dad who was smart, would drop us off, drive back to the city to obstentiously"work" for the week, then pick us up after the week was over. No dummy was he.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:33 AM on July 13, 2007


Sorry, Brittanie - the Midwest already owns the Kolacky. It is our apricot/prune/cheese/occasionally raspberry-stuffed pastry!
posted by Iridic at 10:37 AM on July 13, 2007


Dr. Hoy was my thesis director. He's a super nice guy who is also one of the only racnchers I've heard of who teaches folklore and Medieval and Rennaisance Lit. He's also a contributor/character in Prairyerth by William Least Heat-Moon, whose claim on Native American lineage is tenuous at best, but it's a great book.

Also, don't ever eat at a Runza. The name says it all.

Great post, cog_nate.

On preview: subatomiczoo, there's at least one in Lawrence, KS (there used to be two), but you can check for yourself where the nearest one is for you.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2007


In order to own it, you should probably spell it right. Frankly, the Koloche ("little wheel") represents Nebraska to Nebraskans more than any other food.

Personally, I'm rooting for the "Rueben", since it was invented in Omaha.
posted by RavinDave at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2007


Don't make me say "Buffalo, buffalo, buffalo..."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 AM on July 13, 2007


Most of my family is German but my Scottish grandfather LOVES bierocks (and makes delish ones as well). In Houston, a kolache is nearly the same thing, but I've never had one filled with sweets. I always got mine filled with sausage.

From the link:
Q : What's a kolache?

A kolache is generally described as a slightly sweet, pastry roll filled with a variety of ingredients ranging from fruit to cheese to meat.
Yum.
posted by Brittanie at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2007


Yes you can still get runzas in Nebraska, at least the last time I drove through there were fast food style runza restaurants staffed by stoned teenagers. And they are delicious.*

*If you like the flavor combination of ground beef, onions, cabbage, and black pepper.
posted by TungstenChef at 10:48 AM on July 13, 2007


Ta... Tatanka?
posted by cog_nate at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2007


A compromise, then - Nebraska can have the Koloche, the Texans can take the Kolache, and we Midwesterners will settle for the Kolacky.

(Let's leave the koláče to the Czechs; I suppose they have some small claim to it).
posted by Iridic at 10:51 AM on July 13, 2007


I have never heard of bierocks, but I'm an absolute sucker for any and all food items consisting of meat surrounded by starch. Pierogies! Ravioli! Nikuman! Corn dogs! Knishes! Beef patties! Wontons! Empanadas! Kreplach! Pasties! Onigiri! I delight in them all!

I want a bierock right now.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:52 AM on July 13, 2007


I spent summers of my formative years in Southern Kansas where my friend's family owned a lot of property (between the wheat fields there's all kinds of bobbing mules, Kansas has a lot more hydrocarbon wealth than they let on). They were Volga German, but I never heard of this. We were fed a constant diet of Boulevard beer from a Kansas City brewery, local brauts and copious amounts of weed. Little known secret, Kansans are huge pot heads. They may not have the quality of the super-strains from the coasts, but when it is growing all over the place, the quantity makes up for quality. That and the complete ignorance of the 21 drinking age. I remember getting shitfaced in a bar that looked like it was from Jodie Foster's Accused at 18 and smoking a joint at the end of the night. The only other time I saw people smoking openly in a bar was at a really pretentious club in LA inside the Roosevelt Hotel that I had no business being at. That's probably where the similarity between those two places begins and ends.
posted by geoff. at 10:52 AM on July 13, 2007


hmmm sounds a lot like what my mom calls cabbage rolls, so delish but our dough/bread was much thinner just barely covered the filling
posted by estronaut at 11:00 AM on July 13, 2007


They may not have the quality of the super-strains from the coasts, but when it is growing all over the place, the quantity makes up for quality.

Obviously you didn't meet the right people. It's an agrarian state, or at least used to be, after all.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:02 AM on July 13, 2007


The problem with the so-called "Runza" is that by the time it hits the counter the cabbage is so mushy and bland that there's not much reason to add it in the first place. Grab the recipe and make a home-made batch -- THOSE are sublime.

SIDEBAR: I'm not sure the extent of the current trademark on Runza's -- how far it extends. It probably just covers the name (which probably is original), but I recall my Russian professor talking about being called to testify at some trial where the family that popularized them was evidently trying to grab credit for inventing them. This is, of course, like me claiming my gramma invented "vegetable soup" ... but I think they got a lot of mileage out of that claim and drove some competitors to withdraw their versions.
posted by RavinDave at 11:02 AM on July 13, 2007


Don't forget about the favorite of the Dakotas, Fleischkuechle. It's a seasoned ground beef patty, wrapped in dough and deep fried. Yum!
posted by TungstenChef at 11:05 AM on July 13, 2007


Faint of Butt, there's a guy in Beijing who has something for you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:12 AM on July 13, 2007


Sounds like the pierogi in Polish-afficted areas of the US.
posted by MtDewd at 11:28 AM on July 13, 2007


I thought prairie voles were both the representative animal and the representative food for life on the plains.

Oh, you mean human life.
posted by Tehanu at 11:40 AM on July 13, 2007


I learned 2 new words today!

1. Bierock looks like a cognate, or even just an alternate transliteration of, pierog.

2. Keith Talent's obstentiously. Not sure if that was supposed to be ostensibly, abstemiously, or something else, but I like it.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:48 AM on July 13, 2007


I have never heard of bierocks, but I'm an absolute sucker for any and all food items consisting of meat surrounded by starch. Pierogies! Ravioli! Nikuman! Corn dogs! Knishes! Beef patties! Wontons! Empanadas! Kreplach! Pasties! Onigiri! I delight in them all!

I hear you, brother!!.
I have been to about 40 countries so far, and have yet to find one without some sort of empanada-analog. And they're (almost) all delicious.
posted by signal at 1:42 PM on July 13, 2007


I was under the impression that the most representative food of the Great Plains was red beer.
posted by dersins at 2:02 PM on July 13, 2007


It is a pierog. b = p k = g bierock is just a dialet change of the same word. Where's languagehat when a girl needs him. I'm sure he could explan the phonetic shift better than I.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:21 PM on July 13, 2007


Oh woops, sorry Artifice_Enternity, I cruised past your comment.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2007


I t hought I'd never heard of it until I looked at the picture. School kids across Texas know them as...a Western Burger!
posted by rcavett at 3:31 PM on July 13, 2007


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