To observe coronavirus containment measures, we are cancelling all LUKA dining events and switching to a delivery-only model. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript here:
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is John Goddard and you’re listening to Eastern European Cooking with LUKA.
So here’s the first item up for bid in today’s showcase: All LUKA dining events have been postponed until further notice due to the developing coronavirus situation. If you purchased tickets to the Hungarian dinner on the 25th, your refund is on the way if you haven’t received it already.
We’re doing this to observe containment measures for coronavirus, obviously, and while it pains me very, very, VERY deeply to shut down all forthcoming events, we need to be extra vigilant right now.
I have heard a lot of people saying it’s being blown out of proportion and that they’re going to keep living their lives, and my response to that is this: The science and math involved in vector calculations and projections are demonstrably real, and they work in favor of the virus.
Whatever you believe you know, please listen to experts, because the pandemic situation can get much worse very quickly if we don’t use our heads.
Beyond that, let’s keep looking out for each other. Keep an eye on your neighbors, especially the elderly. I think most of us are still in a bit of shock, and not sure how we’re going to get through this, but maintaining a consciousness of caring and looking out for others is probably a good start.
Businesses are shutting down. Many people are losing work and income. We don’t know yet how far-reaching and impactful this situation will already become. Even if the virus is wiped out next week, our society will feel the effects of this for a while. So I think we just need to be better citizens in general.
Have patience. Ride out the changes to your routine. And take care of each other. Before I continue the episode, there’s this announcement:
Hey St Louis! The LUKA Deli Box is now available for delivery. Each box contains a curated selection of premium, shelf-stable Eastern European delicacies for convenient enjoyment at home throughout the week.
Products rotate regularly with availability and demand, but your delivered box will contain a large loaf of locally baked bread, smoked meat, sausage or fish, a slab of cheese, an easy soup or side mix, a jar of jam, a jar of pickles or vegetable preserves, a box of tea and a package of chocolate, cookies or other confections.
Delivery fee is included for service in our delivery area. Just check lukadining.com for information and ordering, or call 314-226-9184.
That’s right, the LUKA Deli Box. For when you want a taste of the old country at home.
So yeah, that’s where we are right now. Coincidentally, I was beginning to move LUKA towards delivery services before we started living more precautionary lives, and now here we are.
I’m not sure what the demand will be, or what product availability will be like in the coming days and weeks, but I’m going to try to keep product rotation down to once weekly. But as I’m sure you know, it’s hard to make any kind of plans or projections right now.
But let’s talk about what I’ve got in the box right now. I’ve kind of designed this so you have the makings for a charcuterie board, or a few sandwiches, or even soups and stews, plus tea and snacks. There are a variety of ways to use the contents of the box, and I’ll go into that now.
First up we have a nice big loaf of freshly baked bread. Right now I’m sourcing bread from a couple of local Bosnian bakers, and I try to get dense loaves of wheat bread if its available. But the bread is fresh, it’s locally baked, and it is unsliced. That’s usually how I prefer to get my bread because I like to slice it differently thicknesses for different applications. But one of these loaves should last two people a couple of days.
Next we have two links of Hungarian smoked sausage. This is specifically Gyulai kolbasz, a classic paprika suasage, and the package weighs a little less than a pound. This is ready to slice and eat like a salami, but you can certainly use it in soups, stews and other dishes. I really like to dice it, fry it up a little bit, then scramble it with some eggs. It’s pretty delicious.
I currently have a second protein in the box, and it’s nearly a pound of smoked and dried beef ribs. These are very aromatic and flavorful, but also versatile. Since the meat is cured, smoked and dried, you can slice the meat from the bones for snacking, but you can also cook the meat and bones into a stock for soups and stews. And that’s a delicious use. I’m going to feature a recipe for potato soup from the Baranja region of Croatia at the blog soon, and it uses these ribs and smoked sausage for the base. So, the Hungarian sausage can actually be used for this potato soup too. See what I did there?
Next up we have a Bulgarian kashkaval sheep’s milk cheese, and each slab weighs about a half pound. Kashkaval is mild and pretty versatile. you can slice it and eat it with Smoked Meats, you can shred it into an omelet, or make garlic cheese bread with it. With your bread.
Oh, and one other way to your enjoy your bread would be to slather it with the rose hip preserves that are also included in the box. Rose hips are notoriously high in vitamin C, and some people say vitamin C is good for your immunity.
You could enjoy that toast and jam with a soothing cup of Serbian wild thyme tea, aka Majkina Dusica, which means “mother’s soul”. This is a very beneficial herbal tea, and I’ve listed the various benefits on the ordering page.
On to our soup mix, which is the classic Podravka chicken noodle soup. The envelope says “chicken flavored” but it’s a poor translation. The Podravka company has a long tradition of using quality ingredients, and I assure you that real chickens were involved in the making of this chicken noodle soup. It’s fast, easy comfort.
What goes with chicken noodle soup aside from good bread? Well, you could have a little side of lecso, the beloved Eastern European vegetable ratatouille. The Polish version included contains bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and cabbage. You can eat it cold or warm as a side dish, or even add a bit to the chicken noodle soup.
That leaves us with dessert, which is a bar of Dorina milk chocolate from the Kras company. Kras has been around since 1911, so I don’t need to say much. It’s fantastic chocolate.
And that does it for the current box. There are limited quantities of these items, so product rotations might happen without much notice. I’m going to update the ordering page as often as I can to make sure it reflects the actual contents.
I suppose I’ve said enough about the contents of the box for today, but I’d like to say something about this new service: I wish I could give and do more.
I’m slightly uncomfortable promoting a timely paid service right now, because it feels like disaster capitalism, but my dining event business has definitely been affected heavily by the coronovirus pandemic.
So, if there’s anything insensitive about how I’m handling this, or if there’s a more polite way to quickly change gears in the face of financial hardship, then I would sincerely like to know, because we’re in uncharted territory right now. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, and you can drop me a message at the website or give me a call at 314-226-9184.
That’s enough for today. I thank those of you who have ordered LUKA Deli Boxes already. Our first deliveries go out this Thursday and Sunday. If operating conditions suddenly get weird, then I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
This had been Eastern European Cooking with LUKA, and I’m John J. Goddard. Please stay home if you can, and take care of yourselves and each other. We’ll talk again soon.