Iće i piće

NO 2, May 2007


a Gourmet Sandwich of Istrian Coalminers

Pino Kuhar, kuhar iz sela kuhari

Photos: Damir Fabijanić

Surface miners were privileged to the extent that they could bring a bag containing a substantial lunch, accompanied by a bottle of wine, whereas those working down in the shaft were condemned to a meal that could fit within the limits of their working shirt pocket.

Until 1980’s, there was an active coal mine in Labin, Istria. What do coalmining and cuisine have in common? The key should be looked for in the aspect of the ingredients’ energy values, or rather, the key can be found in a small parcel of food wrapped in a sheet of greased paper. It consisted of two equally sized slices of bread, carefully shaped to fit into the pocket of the miner’s coat, stuffed with bacon, cracklings, occasionally with boiled or roasted meat, yet most commonly with omelet. Such a sandwich, or kavarski panin, was taken by the miners into the depths of the shaft to be eaten for lunch.

The basis of panin is a still warm loaf of bread made under a baking lid (locally known as čeripanj), sliced into two halves. A slice two to three centimeters thick is cut from the middle part of the halved loaf, then cut again into two slices. For a traditional asparagus omelet stuffing, about 20 to 30 grams of smoked bacon, cut into small cubes, were fried in the pan until crispy. 50 grams of asparagus broken into centimeter-long bits were added to the bacon. When asparagus was done, three beaten eggs with a pinch of salt were added. Panin was then stuffed with this hot, rich, semi-hardened omelet, pressed gently and wrapped in a clean kitchen cloth to cool down. Upon cooling, panin was packed in a sheet of greased paper, which was held fast by means of four round elastic bands, cut from the bicycle’s inner tube.

Kavarski panin, cut into cubes, makes a delicious canapé sandwich, great for cocktail parties and similar events, such as welcome cocktails and wine tastings.

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