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Kiełbasa, kołbasa, klobasa, kobasa, kolbasi, kovbasa, kobasi, and kubasa are common North American anglicizations for a type of Eastern European sausage. Synonyms include Polish sausage, Ukrainian sausage, etc. In English, these words refer to a particular genre of sausage, common to all Eastern European countries but with substantial regional variations. In the Slavic languages, these are the generic words for all types of sausage, local or foreign.
The terms entered English simultaneously from different sources, which accounts for the different spellings. Usage varies between cultural groups, but overall there is a distinction between American and Canadian usage.
In the United States, the form kiełbasa (usually // or //) is more often used and comes from the Polish kiełbasa [kʲewˈbasa] ( listen) "sausage". In New Jersey, Pennsylvania and most areas of Greater New York City, a derivative of the Polish word is used, pronounced //.
In addition to kiebasa, Canadians also use the word kubasa (// or //), a corruption of the Ukrainian kovbasa (ковбаса), and Albertans even abbreviate it as kubie to refer to the sausage eaten on a hot dog bun.
Sausage is a staple of Polish cuisine and comes in dozens of varieties, smoked or fresh, made with pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chicken or veal with every region having its own speciality. Of these, the Kiełbasa Lisiecka, produced in Małopolskie, has, since late 2010, PGI protection. There are official Polish government guides and classifications of sausages based on size, meat, ready-to-eat or uncooked varieties.
Originally made at home in rural areas, there are a wide variety of recipes for kielbasa preparation at home and for holidays. Kielbasa is also one of the most traditional foods served at Polish weddings. Popular varieties include:
The most popular kiełbasa is also called "Kiełbasa Polska" ("Polish Sausage") or "Kiełbasa Starowiejska" ("Ancient Countryside Sausage"). This one comes closest to what is generally known in America as "kiełbasa" (a Polish sausage). Nowadays, many major meat packers across America offer a product called "kiełbasa," usually somewhat different from the original.
In Poland, kiełbasa is often served garnished with fried onions, and – in the form of cut pieces – smoked kiełbasa can be served cold, hot, boiled, baked or grilled. It can be cooked in soups such as żurek (sour rye soup), kapuśniak (cabbage soup), or grochówka (pea soup), baked or cooked with sauerkraut, or added to bean dishes, stews (notably bigos, a Polish national dish), and casseroles. Kiełbasa is also very popular served cold as coldcuts on a platter, usually for an appetizer at traditional Polish parties.
A less widely available variety of kiełbasa is the White Fresh (biała), which is sold uncooked and unsmoked, then usually prepared by boiling, frying or cooking in a soup in place of raw meat. This variety of kiełbasa's taste is similar to a white Thuringian sausage.
In the U.S., "kielbasa" can be bought in most Polish stores all over the USA, as well as in most major grocery store chains, which may be unsmoked ("fresh") or fully or partly smoked. A popular charcoal-grilled variety topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut, known as a Maxwell Street Polish; is considered local fare in the Midwest, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area.
In Canada, varieties typical of Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere are available in supermarkets, and more specific varieties can be found in specialty shops. This type of sausage is particularly associated with the Prairie Provinces, where the Slavic cultural presence is particularly strong. The world's largest display model of a Ukrainian sausage is a roadside attraction in Mundare, Alberta, the home of Stawnichy's Meat Processing.
Kolbász is the Hungarian word for sausage. Hungarian cuisine produces a vast number of types of sausages. The most common smoked Hungarian sausages are Gyulai Kolbász, Csabai Kolbász, Csemege Kolbász, Házi Kolbász, Cserkész Kolbász, lightly smoked, like Debreceni Kolbász (or Debrecener) and Lecsókolbász, a spicy sausage made specifically for serving as part of the dish Lecsó, a vegetable stew with peppers and tomatoes. Hungarian boiled sausages are called "Hurka", Liver Sausage, "Májas", and Blood Sausage, "Véres". The main ingredient is liver and rice, or blood and rice. Spices, pepper, and salt are added.
Similar sausages are found in other Slavic nations as well, notably Russia (spelled "колбаса", i.e. "kolbasa"), the Czech Republic (spelled "klobása", or regionally "klobás"), Slovakia (spelled "klobása") and Slovenia (spelled "klobása"). In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, this sausage is called "kobasica", while in Bulgaria and Macedonia it's called "kolbas".
In Iran, the sausages are referred to as Kalbas (Persian: کالباس).
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