That stuff is everywhere in the South. I’m talking about something that only Texas has. Something a little sweet, a little pillowy, a little chewy, a little cheesy, a little meaty. Something that after you eat one, you just have to get another. Something that 99.91% of the time is chosen over donuts (I made up the stats, but I’ve never met anyone who picks a donut when they’re given this). My Texas friends, I miss the kolaches.
If you haven’t had it, you’re gonna say “That’s a pig-in-the-blanket, Whole Foods has loads.” No, it is far from a pig-in-the-blanket. I repeat, kolaches is NOT pig-in-the-blanket (PitB).
The difference is in the bread. PitB bread is plain, flare it up with poppy seeds and oily butter or not, it’s plain and must not be eaten without the sausage. Kolaches bread is sweet, like a Hawaiian roll*. PitB bread is dry and flaky. Kolaches bread is pillowy, slightly chewy and moist. The sausage is there for protein surplus and does not really add fireworks to the flavor. If you insist on an either-or, I’d choose the bread and toss the sausage every time. Donut shops in Houston would ask if you want the kind with cheese, say yes. The very thin inner lining of cheese makes its salty-sweet.
Then you’re gonna laugh at me and try to crumble my Texan pride, “It’s a Czech thing, not a Texas thing” and tell me to read Wikipedia. Well, look again, the Czech kolache (pronounced |koh-lash|) is a sweet pastry with fruit jam on top. The Texan kolaches (pronounced |koh-lah-chee|) is savory with a little sausage link inside. The Texas kolaches isn’t any more Czech than the hamburger is from Hamburg.
Originally, it is a variety of the Czech kolache, referred to as “klobasnek” or “klobasnik,” which comes from “klobasek,” Czech for “sausage,” similar to “kielbasa“. But the Czechs consider the Texas kolaches a joke too far removed from their fruit-topped dessert pastries, for it has cheap cocktail sausage links instead of the huge Polish dogs. The misnomer “kolache” is perhaps due to the Houstonian Kolache Factory‘s successful advertisement of this savory breakfast on the go.
Black sheep to the Czechs or not, the Texas kolaches are extremely popular in Texas. Most donut shops have them, usually twice or three times more expensive than donuts, and all are sold out before noon. Sometimes 9 am. No kolaches left behind.
But you won’t be able to find it outside the Lone Star State. You probably will not even hear about it outside the Lone Star State. People just will not know what you’re talking about when you say “kolaches” (pronounced |koh-lah-chee|), unless they’re from Texas. Believe me, I asked my students here, in Berkeley-San Francisco, they gave me the confused eyes and directed me to Whole Foods for pigs-in-the-blanket. I’ve searched every donut shop in town, no luck. I’ve used Google Maps, AM Kolaches in Hayward is the only hit, but it’s the Czech version with fruits and cream cheese.
O Texas Kolaches, how I miss thee!
*Notes on the Hawaiian rolls: Get them! They make awesome sandwiches. Or spread pâté in the middle.