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Kitchen Table

You Say Purek, I Say Beerock

June 25, 1997

A debate rages over the Turkish work "borek" and the Russian "pirog" (better know to us in the form "pirozhki"). Both refer to pies with savory fillings, but are they related? And if so, which came first?

The shatter zone between the Turkish and Russian worlds was the middle stretch of the Volga, a couple of hundred miles east of Moscow, and you might hope to find the answer there. But in the language of the Chuvash, the oldest Turkish-speaking group on the Middle Voga, pie is purek, which splits the difference between borek and pirog so evenly that nobody's satisfied.

The Volga Germen Beerock seems to split the difference too. It's as if there were a conspiracy to hush up the origin of pirog (or is it borek?).

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