Monday, December 22, 2014

THE PA MELTING POT: SPECIAL COLUMN - ODE TO SLOVAK FOLK CRAFTS

THIS COLUMN APPEARED IN THE UNIONTOWN HERALD-STANDARD (PA) ON DECEMBER 25, 2014


The Melting Pot: A look at the evolution of food in 
southwestern Pa.:
 Special Column:  Ode to the Slovak Folk Crafts Shoppe in Grove City, PA

I received a letter this December because I had been a previous customer of this establishment where I had purchased an ethnic cook book and a CD-ROM of the LARGE animated woodcarving (which filled a room – 17 feet across) from Slovakia.  The Shoppe opened 14 years ago “to help the people of Slovakia (Czechoslovakia and Slovakia) in the difficult transition from a communist to a free-market economy”.

The Shoppe has offered handcrafts made by artisans in over 30 other countries including the US.  Customers from all 50 states, most of the Canadian provinces and 23 other countries have purchased over 32,000 decorated eggs.  Please visit their website http://www.SlovakFolkCrafts.com  ASAP as the owners are closing the doors by the end of the year due to slow business, age and health issues.  Please see the animated woodcarving.  It is awesome!!


The Slovaks settled in three western PA counties (Allegheny, Fayette and Westmoreland) to build better lives & to escape oppression under Austro-Hungarian rule.  They became miners (in 1891 18,000 Slovak miners went on strike in Connellsville protesting exploitation and a cut in wages) and steel workers.  In Pittsburgh the Slovak-Americans were the 5th largest group after the Germans, Italians, Irishmen, and Poles. Hazelwood, North Braddock, West Mifflin, and Duquesne had 24% – 54% residents with Slovak ancestry in 1990.  According to the 2000 U.S. census (nationalities not addressed in 2010 census) there were 797,764 people of Slovak heritage living in the United States. Pennsylvania ranks first of the 50 states with 30.5% of these residents. Pittsburgh has 105,525, making it the #1 city in the world for people of Slovak heritage outside of Slovakia itself.   

They arrived during the Industrial Revolution and by 1907 almost 57 % of Pittsburgh steel workers were Slovaks who settled in Homestead and Munhall.  With wages so low for unskilled workers they chose poor housing and took in boarders to afford food.  Most of the foods served were meats and breads since the women didn’t have time to prepare expensive vegetables while taking care of their families, their homes and boarders. They spent 46 % of their income on food!  Most of their activities were centered around weddings, the church, holidays and their families. Food was a crucial part of Slovak life and key in this environment.


As they assimilated into their new country they got reputations as hard workers, reliable, patriotic and honest.  The Slovaks keep tradition alive and participate in the Pittsburgh Folk Festival every year in May.  There are three Slovakian societies in Pittsburgh also.

Common foods were and are:  Staromodny Zemiakova Polievka (old fashioned potato soup), Sladky Dezert Polievka (sweet dessert soup), Pulnina (veal loaf), Viancne Bean Jedlo (Christmas bean dish), Matice Vojne (nut rolls), Cirek (Easter cheese), Nove Matky Jacmen Polievka (new mother’s barley soup), Vianocne Kysla Hubova Polievka (Christmas sour mushroom soup), Ciberja (potato soup), Rasca Polievka (caraway seed soup), Bundurcov Halusky (potato dumplings), Kolbassa (pork sausage), Pirohy (pastries filled with cottage cheese, sauerkraut or potatoes), Halubky (stuffed cabbage), Goulash (stew), Kapusta Ochutenie, (sauerkraut relish), Brusnica Maline Kyslou Smotanu Forma (cranberry/raspberry/sour cream mold), Palancinky (crepes), Cheregie (deep fried pastries), Bublana (cherry or blueberry squares) and Kolachky (prune filled cookies).


For recipes from 1700s to 1960s and modern day links versions, visit
www.ThePAMeltingPot.com . Christine Willard, a native of western Pennsylvania, researches and blogs about the food unique to western Pennsylvania. She currently resides in North Carolina. Her blog can be found at www.ThePAMeltingPot.com.


 LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION AND RECIPES BELOW PHOTOS!!


















  

  

  

  

  

  

  




LINK FROM GLOBALPITTSBURGH.ORG


Slovakian
The first wave of Slovak immigrants came to the Pittsburgh region in the 1890s. It is estimated that close to 100,000 came to this area looking for work and a chance for a better life. The National Slovak Society, the first fraternal benefit organization in America, was found in Pittsburgh in 1890, to help these new citizens financially and socially. Churches and schools were built in each neighborhood were Slovaks lived. It is estimated that by 1920, there were 28 Catholic Slovak churches many with adjoining schools and social halls. The Slovak Lutherans also founded their own churches and organizations. The Byzantine or Greek Catholics from Slovakia also established their own places of worship.
Even though the neighborhood churches are gone, the young American Slovaks look to the Slovak fraternal societies and the cultural organizations to keep their heritage alive. The University of Pittsburgh has a permanently endowed Slovak Program within the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature. This was established and funded by the Slovak Fraternal organization.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, there are 797,764 people of Slovak heritage living in the United States. Pennsylvania ranks first of the 50 states with 243,009 (30.5%) of these residents. Metropolitan Pittsburgh has 105,525, making it the #1 city in the world for people of Slovak heritage outside of Slovakia itself.
  • Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association: (http://wpsca.org/)
    One of the goals of WPSCA is to acquaint the general public with the geography, history and culture of the Slovak Republic.
     
  • National Slovak Society of the USA: (http://www.nsslife.org/)
    Its mission is to unite persons of Slovak and Slavic ancestry and their non-Slav friends and relatives in a fraternal benefit society.
    351 Valley Brook Road
    McMurray, PA 15317-3337
     
  • The Slovak Club, University of Pittsburgh: (http://www.pitt.edu/~votruba/slovak_club.html)
    The University of Pittsburgh's Slovak Club invites all interested parties to participate in its activities. You may learn more about upcoming events by visiting the website.
The Honorary Consul of Slovakia: Mr. Joseph T. Senko
Phone: 888-SLOVAKS
Email: jsenko@mvs-cpa.com



SLOVAKIAN ODE TO SLOVAK CRAFTS SPECIAL COLUMN LINKS

LINK FROM EVERY CULTURE ON SLOVAKIA

GLOBAL ETIQUETTE

TRADITIONS

CULTURE

CHRISTMAS IN SLOVAKIA

SLIDE SHOW

MORE CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS

LINK TO SLOVAKIAN VIDEOShttp://www.youtube.com/user/SlovakTB


RECIPES 1

RECIPES 2

RECIPES 3

RECIPES 4

RECIPES 5




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE PA MELTING POT: SOUTHERN EUROPE: PUGLIA

This column will appear in Uniontown Herald-Standard on 11 27/14.

The Melting Pot: Southern Europe – 9-4 Puglia

Western Pennsylvania is comprised of 13 to 16 percent Italian-Americans. We do know that many Italians came from southern Italy such as the regions of Calabria, Campania, (Apulia) Puglia, Abruzzi, Molise, Basilicata and Sicily after a bloody war with Sardinia and a depression which followed. The immigrants came to PA and Philadelphia among others areas of the eastern US

Puglia is the thin strip of land bordered by the Adriatic, the Ionian and Mediterranean seas and often called Italy’s heel. Much of Puglia's cuisine or “cucina povera" made use of whatever was at hand or picked from the garden or even the hedgerow!  A classic example of Puglian signature dish is orecchiette con le cime di rapa (pasta cooked with turnip greens).  

Freshness of ingredients is all-important and people cooked with locally produced durum wheat, tomatoes, artichokes, fava beans, courgettes (zucchini), beans, finocchio (Florence fennel is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable and in the anise family), peppers, onions, seafood and lamb.

Bread and pasta are mainstays of the cuisine:  

PANE (BREADS): Taralli (seasoned with fennel and white wine then boiled & then baked until golden, Friselle (a dried bread generally eaten with fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and thyme), Focaccia al Pomodoro (thick crusted dough with tomato sauce and thyme), Pane Laterza (long loaf with a firm crust and soft center), Pane con le Olive (whole wheat loaves made with olives), Pane col Seme di Finocchio (bread with fennel seeds), Pizza Rustica with Prosciutto Cotto (like a focaccia but made with cheese and ham baked inside of it), Ciambella (rusty on the outside, soft on the inside), Pane Casareccio (a bit denser than a ciambella, crust is thicker & made with white flour) and Pagnotta Foggiana (similar to ciabatta).  Pizza, stuffed focaccia, calzoni and panzerotti are made daily.

PASTA:  The traditional pasta dishes are primarily made at home. Orechiette are probably the most well-known type of Apulian pasta and is served with broccoli rape or Bari-style ragù (a rich veal sauce), Pasticcio di Maccheroni (oven-baked pasta dish made for special occasions) and Ciambotta (pasta dish made with a rich fish sauce).

POPULAR FORMAGGI (CHEESES):  Burrata (cow’s milk mozzarella with an oozing cream filling), Caciocavallo Podolico (herby milk from Podolic cows makes a strong cheese aged for 3 years), Canestrato Pugliese (hard cheese with cow’s milk) and Canestrato Pugliese (sheep’s milk hard cheese).

SALUMI (different sausages):  Salsiccia Leccese (pork, veal, lemon peel and spices), Capocollo (whole neck muscle dry cured salume sliced thin) and Soppressata (salami produced with pork, lard, salt, pepper, spices and sometimes garlic).

DESSERTS:   Zeppelo (doughnuts topped with powdered sugar and filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture) and Cartel late (rose shaped pastry fried and dipped in Vin Cotton wine or fig juice).  


VINO (wines): The Salento peninsula features red grapes such as Primitive (like California Zinfandel), Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero. Rosso blends are blended sometimes with international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, or as single varietals. There are also some excellent Salento rosato wines. Whites (biancos) tend to come from from Verdeca, Francavilla and international varietals such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. 

    

    

    

    

    

    

  

  

  

  

  

  

  






http://awaitingtable.com/  COOKING SCHOOL IN LECCE - A FACEBOOK FRIEND











VIDEO:  Making Cavatelli

VIDEO:  Wines of Puglia

VIDEO on Lecce

VIDEO 2 on Lecce

VIDEO 3 on Lecce

VIDEO on Salento



Christine Willard, a native of western Pennsylvania, researches and blogs about the food unique to Western Pennsylvania. She currently resides in North Carolina.  Her blog can be found at www.ThePAMeltingPot.com.