I have recently grown to like more and more the food from Eastern Europe and Northern Europe, somehow as if my new taste for this food directly translated a craving coming from a reminiscence of my mother’s family habits, roots and culture. And by that, I mean yogurt-based platters, cured cold meats, smoked fish and pickles.
Our recent trip to Eastern France in the region of Alsace confirmed my new attraction to this type of food. Eastern France is not Eastern Europe (dah!), nevertheless the food of this region partly gets its influence from this part of the continent. The cuisine itself is not always very complex or refined, but the clever assembling of flavors and textures makes it an interesting way of eating. Sometimes, the main dish stands by a single stew, sometimes it’s the other way around as plates may display a composition of various ingredients that one may choose to eat altogether, or just pick 2 or 3 of them for a bite, or less or more, and so on depending how you like to combine them youself. This is how I came across this dish that I simply love now. Alsacians call it a Bibeleskäss. It was on the Menu (click to read) of this typical Alsacian restaurant called the Winstub Meiselocker (click to reach their website and have a glance at what a Winstub is in Alsace), in which we were not able to book a table as it was all booked up when we were in Strasbourg last.
A Bibeleskäss is a savant composition of boiled potato, cured meat, smelly Munster cheese, seasoned yogurt aka Alsacian-style cottage cheese, pickles and condiments. This is the “all-inclusive” version of this dish, if I may say so. The basic Bibeleskäss only contains the cold yogurt sauce and the warm boiled potatoes. What I particularly love here, and what reminds me of dishes that my mom and grandma used to make when I ate at home, is this yogurt-based dip for the potato. It is so simple that there’s not even an actual recipe for it, but yet this star ingredient gives the lightness and freshness that a potato dish sometimes needs. To me, it’s also interesting because it opposes to my other culture, the Mediterranean one, in which I was born and raised, and in which the golden ingredient is the olive oil. And I like having a life of contrasts and diversity. This is who I am. Deep down, I am a Bibeleskäss stuffed in a bottle of olive oil! :D
- Boiled potatoes
- thick Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
- 1 clove garlic for the sauce
- 1 scallion: whites in the sauce, greens on top of the sauce
- salt and pepper for the sauce and the potatoes
- a bit of chives and parsley to taste for the sauce
- cured meat or charcuterie of your choice (I chose peppered beef pastrami)
- a couple slices of Munster cheese
- green leaves with a dash of your favorite vinaigrette
- Boil the potatoes, then peel them before serving. Some people keep them as is with just salt and pepper, other like them roasted in the pan with herbs (parsley and chives) and a bit of butter, salt and pepper.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce by combining the Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with minced garlic, scallion whites, salt, pepper, herbs mix if using, and top with scallion greens.
- Serve all the ingredients on a large plate with the cold sauce in the middle and the warm potatoes nearby.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.