What’s the taste of Soča Valley? One of the traditional local dishes, a must-try when visiting our gorgeous valley is certainly a very special treat called krafi. Krafi (plural form for kraf) is a fully dialectal word and is unknown even to most of Slovenian speakers from other regions. So, what are krafi?
We can describe them as dumplings filled with mixture made of mostly dried pears, but not just any sort of pear. It is a special sort of tiny, but very sweet pears (Pyrus communis, called tepka in Slovene), which became present in this area since the time of the Empress Maria Theresa. Maria Theresa commanded that each homestead has to grow this sort so it would provide people with food in the times of general lack. Our home still prides itself with two trees of that sort. They are real treasure as they are more than a hundred years old.
When the pear falls on the ground, it is not ripe yet. It is still hard and becomes soft and sweet with time. When ripe, the pear is brown and entirely soft. In the past, such pears were then thoroughly dried and kept for celebrations. It was on Christmas Eve, before going to Midnight Mass, that people traditionally treated themselves to this desert. To make the filling they cooked the dried pears, while nowadays we can keep the pears in freezer.
Let’s see how to make this local treat. Knowledge is passed from generation to generation and the filling may slightly differ from household to household. Here is ours:
To make the filling, we first fry come onion and optionally some small pieces of apple, then add the pears and some ground walnuts. Nowadays, we can also add raisins or other dried fruit, cinnamon … none of which modest households in the past had, so they only used the local ingredients.
Time to make the dough. It is very simple, made of steamed flour, some oil and salt. I have always enjoyed making krafi. ‘To form a dumpling, you need to make a rooster crest,’ my grandma says. You see what I mean on the photo.
Only some ten to fifteen minutes are needed to cook krafi. We cover them with some sauce made of butter and crumbs and add cinnamon or even honey to taste.
P.S.: dried pears (tepka) serve perfectly in many other local wholesome dishes, for example slightly sweet polenta. Of course, as the pears are sufficiently sweet themselves, there’s no need to add sugar. Simply add some pears into boiling water before stirring in polenta grains and treat yourself to another tasty dish. Limitless imagination is always the key 😊
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