28690"Food and Eating"--2
- Feb 23, 2010Barley was another important cereal. Barley grains were roasted before use, and afterwards were ground in a quern [a primitive hand mill for grinding grain < http://www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/What-s-on/Diary >], or were crushed in a mortar. This primitive means of producing flour was used in the Slovak countryside until the first decades of the 20th century. Later, barley groats [grains with their hulls removed] began to be made in mills. Home-made groats were very nutritious, more so than rice, which gradually replaced groats in Slovak cuisine during the 20th century.
A thick mush made from groats was cooked with salty water or a thinner mush was cooked with milk, and was served with milk, butter, or lard. Festive wedding-mush was flavored with honey. Sausages were often filled with a groat mush. It was said that groats held up well when mixed with blood, so they were put into blood sausages; "beggar" or "black" mush was cooked from groats at hog-killings. Groats also formed the base of various thick, nutritious dishes. Podders [plants growing in pods, such as peas, beans, or lentils] and sauerkraut were often cooked with them. Smaller barley groats were cooked in milk-based and water-based soups, where they cooked along with vegetables. Formerly, barley groats were also used to make home-made leavening. Lukewarm water was poured onto the groats, wild hops with onions were added, and the mix was left to ferment. The resulting liquid and groats formed the so-called "parkvas," which was used to leaven bread dough. When the "parkvas" was dried, it was still good even a couple of months later(4). This method of preparing leavening gradually faded in Slovakia during the first half of the 20th century. Generally, it was replaced by leavening that was made from the leftover bread dough or soaked bread, or in some places brewer's or distiller's yeasts were used as leavening. In mountain regions, barley flour was also used for cooking and baking. A mush called "c~i'r," as well as a sour soup, were made from it. Barley flour was often added to rye flour to make home-made bread; barley flour was also used to make unleavened flatbreads, which often replaced leavened bread in the mountains.(5)
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