Half-remembered Possibly Jewish Meat Patty
Maybe someone here can help me clarify a very fuzzy childhood food memory. It dates back to way before any conscious chowhoundism on my part...before language, maybe.
The thing was some kind of meat patty, hamburger-shaped, defintely filled with much bready binder, but not like any meatloaf I've ever had. It had a very specific taste and a sort of firm texture.
My mother bought them for me at a deli on Main St. in Kew Gardens Hills (a neighborhood we moved out of when I was six). The area was predominantly Jewish--though not as Orthodox as it later became--but I'm not sure whether or not the deli itself was specifically Jewish. I always ate them cold, but I have no idea whether this was proper or if I was just always urgently hungry.
I loved those things. It's not so much that I want to find them again, I just want to know what the heck they were.
Hmmm, could you be talking about burekas (sp?). burekas are Turkish (and often Sephardic Jewish) and can have a variety of fillings. There is actually a tiny bureka store in Rego Park (if it still exists.) I don't know how authentic theirs are, but they have 2 doughs, one empanada like, and the other is philo dough. They have a variety of fillings, but some (mushroom) need to be ordered ahead.
Bureks are found throughout the Hellenic - Roman - Byzantine - Arabic - Ottoman culinary crescent.
in Albanian: burek
in Greek: bourekia
Lebanese, Turkish, Israelis, and others all have similar recipes.
The fillings vary: cheese, ground beef, potato, apple, et.al.
The pastry also varies: phyllo, puff, pate, gourou, etc.
They can be fried or baked.
They are a common link and establish the breadth of this historical culinary continuum to which I refer above.
You won't find those meat patties at the little bureca store in Rego Park. But they make the most authentic, and best burecas in the City. They're all mostly hand-made, without much machinery beating the crap out of the dough and fillings. No one makes the stuff like that anymore.
I think that what you are referring to is likely what in Yiddish is perhaps called a "Karnetzlach", and in German is "Fleischphlanzerl." [n.b. neither of these spellings is likely to be correct.]
Basically, it is the ur-hamburger, I suppose originally from Hamburg. I have seen them shaped both like little hamburgers, or into little torpedoes. The last time I had them was in a Kosher restaurant in Antwerp, where they were torpedo shaped, with coursely ground beef, onion, and lots of garlic. They are also easy to find in Germany, though probably not all beef and without all the garlic.
I also remember seeing them in Kosher delis in New York -- particularly at the long gone Berger's Deli in Westbury, Long island -- though not for quite some time.
My Roumanian grandmother used to make lamb patties around Passover. She used ground lamb, matzoh meal, leeks and other seasonings, browned them in oil and then simmered them in borscht. We ate them hot or cold and they were delicious. Could this be the half-remembered possibly Jewish meat patty?
Thanks to all for the great info, ideas, and guesses. I love how this thread split neatly down Sephardic/Ashkenazi lines. I think the Ashkenazi camp nailed my mystery meat--Carnatzlach (and all its varients) sounds like exactly what I was thinking of--but I also appreciate all the bureka suggestions, too (I think I know the Rego Park place you're talking about, but I've never been; I'll try to remedy that soon).
If anyone actually spots this stuff in NY, give a holler (I'll do the same). In the meantime, just having a name to put to this memory has probably saved me years of therapy.