Beluga Priboi Pie

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Priboi is a pie typical to the area around the mouth of the Danube, where the river flows into the Black Sea, on the spawning route of various sturgeon fish species. The pie is based on the organs of the beluga sturgeon. It is prepared with a base of soft dough and a filling made of beluga placenta and caviar. The placenta is cut into pieces, with some of the caviar still left in, and liver and intestines are added to the mix, which is then browned with onion, garlic, pepper, tomatoes and, optionally, wine. The name of the pie (priboi) is a reference to a sieve-like instrument used to extract the caviar eggs from the placenta. As flour is rarely used in food preparation in the Danube delta, the beluga pie is, together with piro?ki, one of the very rare pastry products of the region.Beluga, on the other hand, is the backbone of Sfantu Gheorghe cuisine. The locals compare its functional and symbolic role for their fishing community with that the pig in the Romanian agricultural communities. Traditionally, every part of the beluga was used and turned into food products or instruments.The priboi pie is specific to Sfantu Gheorghe village in the Danube delta, a village inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians (Khokhols), and it represents such a strong conveyor of identity that it became an element of identification for the other inhabitants of the area: the neighbouring Lipovans of Caraorman refer to the Khokhols of Sfantu Gheorghe as ki?m?neni/ki?mane, meaning ‘eaters of beluga entrails.’ Currently, beluga fishing is forbidden for ten years (2006-2016), and therefore the locals cannot currently access this product. The prohibition measure has caused major disruption to the everyday lives of traditional fishermen, and the ban has been contested for its environmental effects, with critics claiming that the measure discourages fishing communities from preserving everyday practices of territorial maintence and administration (cleaning canals, establishing fishing areas and seasons etc.).

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