How is it, when two sisters marry two brothers, and raise each of their families with the SAME Slovenian recipe, that each family calls it by different names? palačinke and maletta! Could maletta be scrambled palačinke or smorn?
Lillian and Violet, my grandmother, are two middle sisters, who grew up in a Slovenian home, in America, where the mom spoke Slovene to her children, but insisted that her children responded back in English. I can see how the Slovenian words could get jumbled up among the children. In fact, years later at a family gathering, I happen to be sitting in my grandmother’s living room where the children of this Bryer (Brajer) family tried to see if they could still speak Slovene with one another. They laughed and kept trying to correct one another. Haha. They didn’t get very far. So sad to have lost that language within one generation. And yet, 5 generations later this recipe is part of our family, our own culture, ingrained deep into who we are and why we identify as being part of this fabulous family! Isn’t that amazing? I love it!
Hindsight! I knew my great Aunt Elsie (the oldest Bryer sister). How I wish I had asked this oldest sister what she called this Slovenian pancake and why. She would probably remember things better than these two middle sisters. I’ve also been told that she was an amazing cook! Another missed wish! To have been taught by a great aunt all the recipes she grew up eating. She may have even had recipe cards from her mother, my Great Grandma Francisca Locicinik!
Still…for these two middle sisters who are 2 years apart, who had a total of four children, 13 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, and lots of great great grandchildren, to still be calling the recipe by the name their mother taught them, I find awesome!
When I previously posted on “All Things Family History,” Palačinke, recipes from the past. Immediately, the children of Great Aunt Lillian responded with… “That’s not what we called it.” Really? I was so surprised. My mother said it’s true. They called Slovenian crepes something different even while she was growing up. “We call it Maletta,” they said. So here are some of my discoveries and thoughts and our family recipe.
Palačinke. While growing up and not speaking Slovene, the spelling of palačinke became more and more unique, and over time we began to change the pronunciation, to palachinqua instead of “ke”. But having been to the country and seeing restaurants dedicated to these wonderful Slovenian Crepes or pancakes as they call them, the correct spelling and pronunciation is “palačinke”.
So, I began to wonder:
What does “maletta” mean, and if we too had changed the pronunciation and spelling over time? Was this another form of palačinke or was it something entirely different? Could “maletta,” be the name of our other family Slovenian recipe for scrambled palačinke/pancake?
And…why does some in our family call these scrambled pancakes “milk eggs” and others call them “Good Scrambled Eggs”? Well, “milk eggs,” Because that is exactly how we eat them. All scrambled and then scooped up in a spoon and dipped into a cup of milk to eat. And…well, “Good Scrambled Eggs,” because a little sugar makes everything taste a little better. 😊 Right?! Haha. Interesting that within the same generation to slightly change a name because it’s how small children identify with what you’re eating. “Good scrambled eggs” or “milk eggs,” or perhaps scrambled pancakes.
I’m sure there are many words among siblings that have changed the name of the same item. For example, “slicker” vs “rain coat”. Haha! Ok not a great example, but my grandparents called a rain coat a slicker and it just stuck with me. It kills my husband every time that word slips out! 😊 Just like we make up nicknames for friends and family. Words change, evolve and sometimes they just stick!
In google translate, here is what I came up with:
mlečna jajca (milk eggs)
mlečno jajce (milk egg)
The closest was: Mleca (milk)
But still not sure… so…I emailed a friend from Slovenia, Lidija. This was her response, “I must admit this is the first time I’m hearing of the word ‘maletta’ for pancakes, and it’s definitely not used in Slovenian language. The only thing that does, however, come to my mind is the connection with the word ‘omleta’, which is an omellete in English.”
Could ‘omleta’ be the word my cousins used for scrambled pancakes? Omleta and maletta, do sound very close.
I wonder if the youngest Bryer, James, named them “milk eggs” and eventually dropped the “eggs” part of the word? Or the chopped-up pancake looked like an omelet to him and he changed the pronunciation. But those three, older, loving sisters probably knew exactly what he was asking for, even as the word evolved.
Another thought I had, was that I am the daughter of a daughter of a daughter to Fransica Locicinik. I don’t know if going from a daughter to a son makes a difference in family food culture or in what we name the foods we eat. But so far, ALL the descendants of Fransica Locicinik, eat Slovenian palačinke and what we call “Good Scrambled Eggs” for breakfast.
Last, during my research on-line, I discovered, a Slovenian recipe called “Smorn,” or “carski prazenec,” or “kaiserschmarrn”. The translation; pancake crumbles, scrambled pancakes, or chopped pancake. And they discuss having “rum-raisins” as part of the recipe. Which doesn’t sound very kid friendly or very breakfast like! Haha. But sounds very Slovenian. So I again asked my friend who grew up in Slovenia.
She said, “Carski praženec or šmorn are scrambled palačinke/pancakes, there is no other word for it, sorry. In my family we do add raisins in it, but lots of families skip them. I put raisins in liquid for about 15 minutes first. I either soak them in water or milk, whichever is fine. Some people use rum as well.
But otherwise, basically every housewife has a recipe of her own. When I make it, I first bake a pancake about half a finger think and then I scramble it as much as I can. O, and I do beat the egg whites separately before adding it to the rest of the bat, for it makes these pancakes more fluffy. But I don’t do this when I make regular Slovenian pancakes/crepes/palačinke.
I’m not sure we could call it a Slovenian dish, for it is very present in German speaking areas of Europe as well. I would say it’s a heritage of our Austro-Hungarian empire, in which we lived for hundreds of years.”
I thought this was a great explanation of the recipe. Whatever your family calls them, or however they make them, they are delicious.
Below, see the Slovenian version of our family recipe for “good scrambled eggs” or scrambled palačinke or “smorn” :
Here is our favorite recipe. Great flavor, sweet like a palačinke, but it does have a gooey texture while cooking and takes a bit more effort to scramble.
Good Scrambled Eggs – Slovenian Scrambled Palacinke
- 6 eggs
- 6 TBSP sugar
- 8 TBSP flour
- big pinch salt less than a teaspoon. can make recipe too salty
- 6 TBSP milk
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- Add all ingredients except milk and mix well by hand till smooth.
- Slowly add milk. Best if milk has been sitting out on the counter while mixing and gathering other ingredients.
- Add oil to bottom of a pan and heat
- Add all of the egg mixture to pan. Oil should sizzle a bit and then start scrambling.
- These can be a bit sticky and gooey at first. But as cook and begin to brown a bit, they will scramble and chop easily.
- Quickly remove once you see the brown
- Serve in a bowl. Can add jams or powdered sugar. But our family adds nothing. Just dip a spoonful of "good scrambled egg" into a separate cup of milk and eat. If you pour milk over bowl of eggs they will become soggy. But some like it that way too.
Here is our cousin’s recipe. It cooks up easily. Mixing and chopping to scramble the eggs is simple compared to the gooey recipe above. If you like a less sweet version of palačinke you’ll like these! Give them both a try and let us know your favorite!
Maletta – Slovenian Good Scrambled Eggs
- 1/2 cup milk or less
- 6 eggs
- 3 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 TBSP butter only
- Mix all ingredients till smooth
- Melt butter in pan
- Pour in egg mixture
- Cook and scramble
- When finished place in a bowl. Scoop up eggs and dip into a cup of milk and eat. Yummy!
As I’ve researched and reach out and talked to family and friends. It makes me think about how family stories get passed down and changed. I love the musical Hamilton. The last song is called, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” I think it’s important we write our own stories and how we remember them. Otherwise, someone is going to tell “your” story with their perspective. 😊 And they might say you like palačinke when in reality you liked “good scrambled eggs”!
Remember by small and simple do great things come to pass!
Robert Cepaitis says
My grandmother was Slovenian, and when she would visit, she would make crepes. She called them Maletta. That is the name that I have always known them by. As fast as she could flip them out of the frying pan onto a plate, we would spread on strawberry preserves, roll ’em up, and gobble ’em down. My grandmother would just laugh and encourage to “Eat ! Eat!”. She would also make Pohanje (fried cakes), which we eat until we were bursting. Anyway, thanks for the article, it brought back a good memory
I love your comment! I love how families have their own wonderful memories created because of heritage foods. And as long as you pass down those memeories and stories about your grandmother, cook a few for your family, and call them Maletta because she did, then those connections will continue for generations to come! Now I’m on the look out for Pohanje! I need to make them and see if I ate something similar growning up and didn’t even know I was eating Slovenian 🙂 Just part of my family history!