Tacos, donuts, instant ramen, burgers, wraps, hotdogs… wait, none of these are Slavic! The real Slavic cuisine can’t even compare to such junk foods, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some recipes that can fall into the fast food category. Most Eastern European countries do have some sort of pastry or other form of fast food.
Although you can find some native fast food chains in Europe, the authentic recipes don’t call for burgers or French fries. Our fast food is a rather unhealthy breakfast or main dish that’s packed with carbs and usually takes less preparation and cooking time than most homecooked meals do, be it pastry or not. Either way, even the unhealthiest Slavic fast food is still healthier (meaning more nutritious) than anything you’d find in a McDonald’s joint.
This popular Polish fast food made with yeast dough is most commonly filled with some meat, although you can also find vegetarian versions of it. Traditionally, you would bake these bite-sized paszteciki at home. However, bars and restaurants offering fast food options will make them in elongated, slightly larger versions with deep-fried dough instead of the healthier baked dough.
Universally known as “angel wings”, the faworki originated in Europe and nowadays they have a bunch of Slavic names depending on the region and the dough ingredients – boží milosti, fánka, cirighele, khvorost and so on. They’re usually made out of fried crispy dough and decorated with powdered sugar. In some regions the recipe calls for rum or anise wine, or some other ethyl alcohol. Often found in specialized bakeries, these little “ribbons” or “wings” can also be made at home with the spirit of your choice.
Buhtichki / Mekitsi
This popular junk food, which every Bulgarian remembers from his/ her childhood years, comes under two names – buhtichka and mekitsa. Both are prepared and served the same way, but the latter one is slightly larger and is usually shaped with hands instead of with a spoon. These pan-fried flatbread mounds are garnished with powdered sugar and jam. However, some Bulgarians prefer eating them with sirene (white cheese) and yogurt.
The pastrmajlija is a Macedonian pizza, which you can find not only at locals’ homes, but also in street food joints and taverns. Long, oval-shaped baked dough is the base of this popular dish and it’s garnished with sliced meat cubes. Depending on the region the pastrmajlija may include cheese, mushrooms, onion, bacon and other ingredients. You can find it throughout Macedonia all year round. The town of Štip even holds an annual festival in honor of the dish.
Unless you’ve been locked away in some cave with no Internet for the past couple of years, you’ve most definitely heard of the famous cheburek before. It’s a deep fried street food crescent dough pie filled with minced meat. Although it derives its origins from Turkey it’s become somewhat of a popular breakfast, snack and even main course for people in various parts of Eastern Europe.
Highly caloric and packed with more yeast dough than meat filling, the pirozhki are a traditional Russian snack food, but they’re also a favorite treat for many Slavs outside of Russia. You shouldn’t mistake these with pierogi – a completely different dish consisting of dough dumplings, which are actually way healthier than pirozhki.
Ponichka/ Ponchik/ Pampushka/ Ustipci/ Gogosi/ Pączek/ Fritule
Call them whatever you want, these things can best be described with the globally universal term donut. Every Slavic country has its own recipe, shape, filling and occasion for eating this popular fast food, which is why we, Slavs, have a plethora of names for its varieties depending on the country and the different regions. And no, we haven’t stolen the recipes neither from the Dutch, nor from the Scandinavians. Contrary to popular belief, donuts (the rings and the ones with filling) have been present in many cultures ever since ancient times. As such, it should come to no surprise that you can find donut variations in every Slavic country – each one with its own unique authenticity.