Saturday, August 28, 2010


Upon a recent trip to visit family in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I had the pleasure of visiting two of the town’s wonderful deli establishments. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have a slight affinity for the fine food items crafted by the few remaining artisans who continue the culinary traditions of their culture via their independent delis and meat markets scattered around North America. On this visit, my food excursion included a stop at the Budapest Delicatessen and Baltyk Meat Products & Deli situated on the north end of town.

Arriving at Budapest Deli, I didn’t know what to expect. The street out front was quite on a Saturday morning, and the storefront was small, but there was no shortage of people coming and going quietly with goods in-hand. Upon walking in, my senses were struck by the most amazing aroma of sweet, savory smoke, the sausages and bacon lining the racks on the back wall, and the counter cases filled with a fine assortment of smoked meat cuts, sausages, headcheese, pate, and other styles of seasoned, cooked meat loaves. But, if I had to name one specific item that stood out, it would have to be the fried ribbed bacon, or töpörtyű. Unlike the slices of white fat we’re used to seeing in sterile packs in the refrigerated luncheon meat of the grocery store, these golden-brown crusted slabs actually had a distinct delineation of translucent fat sandwiched in between juicy lean meat layers. They looked delicious, sitting next to the bits of fried bacon bits, what I grew knowing as “cracklins” or chicharrόn.

As we had to choose amongst all the many delicious things in the store, we left with lots of goodies including bacon buns, kifli , poppy seed strudel, Czabai kolbász, paprika headcheese, cracklin's, and of course some fried ribbed bacon. Then it was time to set off for Baltyk Meats!

Baltyk Meats, and the Baltyk Bakery next door proved to be very nice discoveries as well. In the bakery, we found a nice loaf of dense whole-grain rye bread and European Vienna-style cheesecake, though we wanted to leave with one of everything. If one thing had to stand out, it would've been their fruit-filled Polish Donuts (Pączki). They looked amazing, but maybe a bit much on top of the fried bacon and kifli lunch eaten immediately once outside the door at Budapest!

Blatyk Meats offered more European meat fare, though with a much more all-inclusive Eastern European feel. Had to have items included Buckwheat Sausage and Chicken Liver Pate. In addition to many other packaged import goods, they also had a nice selection of smoked fish, birds, and aspics.

Every time I get up to Edmonton for a visit, I am always surprised at the diversity of the relatively new immigrant culture, and those cultures' adherence to the foods of their homelands. In an ever-more sterile and commoditized food landscape, it is refreshing to visit these outlets and see that, at least for now, there still exists a few outliers offering a true taste of real food.

Now to plan for the next visit - I'm hungry already!