The Russian Pastry in Vienna

There were two ingredients on the menu: potato and cheese. It was plain, but it wasn’t simple.

See, there’s a certain kind of piroshki I’ve been searching for to match the memory. Of smaller hands, easier times, bigger dreams — and a linoleum-covered kitchen. My grandmother made these balls of dough with meat and onion, a savory mix but the taste hinted sweet. There was just enough grease to get absorbed by the dough and the top was smooth with a very faint shine. They weren’t for all days, just for special ones. There was something infinitely comforting about the first soft bite.

If I could find that bite today, I’d be there. In a blue-carpeted living room with the lime green chair, satin pillows and ornate mirrored sconces. The dollhouse frame would sit in the corner, under the curio cabinet that hid the glass animals. Would I be dancing? Probably. In stocking feet, with tights pulled up to my ribs, while the record played its crackled tune. There was a freedom that radiated in all directions then. My gooey center. A childlike wonder. Forever wedded to smells from that kitchen.

Back in Vienna, I was left hungry.

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