Story by Jenny Paulson – Pueblo is a melting pot of many diverse immigrants, including many from Eastern Europe, who together have been nick named “Bojons” by long-time locals, a name that doesn’t appear to be used anywhere else. Puebloeans of Bojon (prounounced “bojohn”) heritage (meaning anyone with Eastern European heritage), remember eating Klobasi (Klosbasa) and Kielbasa, two versions of sausage, the first of which is getting harder to track down these days.
The subject of Bojon types of sausage, that Eastesrn Europeans brought to Pueblo, adding to our cultural and culinary heritage was brought up at the popular Facebook group Pueblo, Colorado,…Are You from there, Back in the “DAY?” by Pueblo native Beverly Luetkemeyer, who posted, “You know you’re from Pueblo, when you move to the Midwest and find out no one has ever heard of Klobasi. But Kielbasa is pretty good too.”
After much discussion amongst Pueblo natives, coupled with my own additional research, it’s confirmed that Kielbasa is the name of Pueblo’s traditional Polish version of sausage that locals fondly remember, and that Klobasi is the Slovenian version that Puebloans know (with a name somehow changed from Klobasa, still popular in the home country). Both names simply mean sausage in their respective languages and are said to have a very distinctive different flavors.
If you google Klobasi, you won’t find much, and according to one old time Pueblo native, it’s because the Slovenian version of sausage was originally called Klobasa, a name that at some point changed to Klobasi, the Bojon-Slovenian version that long-time Puebloeans remember their grandparents cooking, or buying at local speciality meat markets.
If you google, the word Klobasi that natives know it as, you will come up with almost nothing. I did however find a few words written in German referring to it, a language I learned in college, prior to my travels to Europe, including Slovenia, when it was still a part of Yugoslavia in the early 90s:
“Klobasi ist eine flektierte Form von klobasa. Alle weiteren Informationen findest du im Haupteintrag klobasa. Bitte nimm Ergänzungen deshalb auch nur dort vor.”
The interpretation of these words from what went to German google, is that Klobasi (Slowenisch, or Slovenian) is a inflected (Inflection is the morphological system for making word forms of words) form of Klobasa and that information about Klobasi, can be found by searching with a main request for Klobasa – meaning that indeed Klobasi, as Puebloeans know it, is Klobasa, with a different word form (but we don’t know why in Pueblo it was switched out).
Some locals they remember their grandparents making their own Klobasi from hogs they raised and/or that they bought it at local speciality markets. Many had their own smokers in the backs of their home.
Barbara Froom shared, ” My grandmother raised hogs, and made her own Klobasi, and smoked them. Delicious!”
Commercially, this Slovenian culinary specialty, is hard to find anywhere in the US because there are fewer Slovenian enclaves (or settlements – most of the Slovenian emigrants in the US settled in Slovenia communities), as there are Polish, and thus Kielbasa, Polish sausage, can be more commonly found.
Klobasi may be a rare delicacy, now only to be found at small speciality meat markets – but the good news for Pueblo, is that there’s a place to find it here, not Far East of what was called Old Bojon Town on the South side (because of the many Eastern European immigrant steelworkers who lived there).
Franks Meat Market, a 70-year-old, business in the Mesa, located at 2000 Santa Fe Drive, still sells the Pueblo-Bojon style traditional Klobasi, and it’s spelled, with an “I” and even ships it seasonally during holidays, including Christmas time and Easter, when it’s most traditionally eaten.
Frank Javornik, the grandfather of family still running the Frank’s Meat Market (named after him), immigrated to Pueblo from Slovenia, then called Yugoslavia, in the 1920s and launched his market in 1947. Frank’s Meat Market is the only shop in Pueblo to sell Klobasi.
Frank’s Meat Market is now run by the third generation, since Frank Jr died several years ago. His wife, Joannne still helps out, and their son, James Javornik is the manager. He works with three of his four other siblings, Frank Javornik, III, Terrie and Eddie, creating sausages and serving custom meat to locals, some who remain loyal buyers of their speciality Klobasi.
Larry Cash, who lives in New Mexico, says he makes a yearly trip to his hometown, and while here, heads to Frank’s Meat Market in Pueblo for his Kiobasi (and Chorizo).
It may still be sold in Pueblo in part, because our city as on the list of top nine cities with large concentrations of Slovenians in the US and that Colorado has the sixth largest Slovenian population of any state.
What’s the history of Klobasa? According to Wikipedia, the noun Klobasa refers to a small sausage generally served whole (in contrast to salama) in Slovenia. The earliest mention of the Carniolan sausage in German is found in Katharina Prato’s renowned cookbook Süddeutsche Küche (South German Cooking, 1896, first edition 1858). The Slovenian term Kranjska Klobasa was first mentioned in the sixth edition of Slovenska Kuharica (Slovenian Cookbook) by Felicita Kalinšek in 1912. It’s made of coarsely ground pork meat, seasoned with garlic and pepper and other ingredients, then hot smoked and heat-cured.
Kranjska Klobasa is one of the most recognized Slovenian meat products in the home country and abroad, but is a rare culinary specialty in US Slovenian tourist towns and in the catering industry, rarely found at meat markets without a high concentration of Slovenian immigrants, as is the case in Pueblo.
If you want to try cooking it at home, I did find one recipe for Slovenian Sausage called Kranjska Klobasa, said to be to this day, still one of the most popular pork sausages in Slovenia, originating in the 19th Century in Kranjska, a town close to the Austrian and Italian borders. Eventually this sausage spread across the region.
It’s more complicated, however than the Bojon version from Frank’s Meat Market, made with ground pork shoulder, ground, white wine, pepper, salt, saltpeter, hog casings, paprika (some recipes call for marjoram) and chopped onions (https://www.thespruceeats.com/slovenian-carniolian-sausage-recipe-1137407)
Now comes the question, if you aren’t Pueblo-Bojon by heritage, with a grandmother’s recipe in hand, what are you going to do with Klobasi aka Klobasa once you buy it?
Traditionally Klobasa is served warm, boiled in hot water for few minutes which results in its specific taste. Traditional side dishes in Slovenia included sour cabbage or turnip, mustard and horseradish. But you can enjoy a cold sausage as part of cold cuts, for example for Easter.
But the new American way to cook either the Polish or Slovenian version, may be to grill it outside during summer months, serving it with a side of grilled veggies and/or a salad. Some locals they have cooked it in a crock pot with beer and sauerkraut, potatoes and other vegetables.
There’s a long time local club, with locals of Slovenian and other Eastern European descent, called Parashuram Club (named after the statute of a rare God that’s displayed at a bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia), that gather for picnics in the summertime in Rye, and they serve hamburgers and their version of Klobasi, on plates with sauerkraut and fried onions.
Others, like it in a sandwich, served hot or cold, with roasted green chiles (which locals find a way to put on almost anything).
Another version of Eastern European sausage, Klobase, Czech sausage can be found in Pueblo at Double J’s on East 4th, another iconic old meat market (that just celebrated their 55th anniversary).
Some Pueblo natives prefer Italian sausage, and Gagliano’s Pueblo’s over 100-year-old Italian shop and meat market is a favorite place to purchase it.
This simple story about local ethnic sausages from the day is an example of what a unique community we have, with a great variety of food traditions that Puebloeans grew up with and that some still remember and maintain today. While I haven’t tried it yet, I’m heading to Frank’s Meat Market to purchase some and will report back.
Link to originating FB post – https://www.facebook.com/groups/277967948880712/permalink/2468697223141096/
Photo of Slovenian Klobasa, known as Klobasi in Pueblo.