Monday, March 31, 2014

The PA Melting Pot: The PA Melting Pot: Part 7 SOUTH CENTRAL EUROPEAN...

The PA Melting Pot: The PA Melting Pot: Part 7 SOUTH CENTRAL EUROPEAN...: My column for the Uniontown Herald-Standard to be published on April 3, 2014. The Melting Pot:  A look at the evolution of food in sout...










The PA Melting Pot: Part 7 SOUTH CENTRAL EUROPEANS: Part 2 - Czechoslovakians and Slovakians

My column for the Uniontown Herald-Standard to be published on April 3, 2014.


The Melting Pot:  A look at the evolution of food in southwestern Pa.  Part 7 SOUTH CENTRAL EUROPEANS:  Part 2 - Czechoslovakians and Slovakians

Because of the proximity/history the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia) and Slovakia are ultimately tied together and will be referred to as Slovaks in this column.  They were joined, broken apart and more!!  Upon arrival in the US they were called “Hunkies” because of their escape from Austro-Hungarian oppression but actually weren’t Hungarian. Again immigration officials lumped nationalities together.  These uneducated peasants settled in Homestead and Munhall to work in the coal fields and steel mills & were given the hardest jobs and received the lowest wages!!  By 1907 52% of the Pittsburgh steel workers were of Slovakian descent.  Over 40% of them took in boarders in crowded tenement buildings just to survive.

Fayette County in 2000 traced 6.6% of its population to Slovakia and Allegheny County’s Mon Valley towns of Whitaker, Munhall and West Homestead have the largest Slovak concentrations, ranging from 22 to 19 percent.  Eventually they became known as hardworking, reliable, patriotic and honest citizens.  
Their lives & entertainment were centered on community, church and family.  The majority of the Slovaks were Roman Catholic but some owed their allegiance to the Russian Orthodox Church & often were mistaken for Russians.  

Since they had such long hours they spent a lot of their income on “stick-to-the-ribs” foods which meant meats and breads and not too many vegetables (more expensive and longer prep time).  

Soups were popular especially for work lunches:  Rasca Polievka (caraway), Staromódny Zemiaková Polievka (old fashioned potato), Ciberja (potatoes, buttermilk, eggs and green or wax beans) and even a sweet dessert soup called Sladký Dezert Polievka.

Dumplings such as Knedlyky (cottage cheese filling), Halusky (varied fillings) and Pirohy (pierogies) (filled with potatoes or cottage cheese) were popular. NOTE: Our family would buy Pirohy (pierogies) freshly made from an area church on Friday nights.

Syry (cheeses) are popular:  Ostipok (salty sheep cheese), Parenica (semi-soft unripe, steamed cheese) and Vyprážaný Syr (fried cheese served with French fries and tartar sauce).   

Meat dishes included Kielbassi, Vepřo-Knedlo-Zelo (Pork with dumplings and cabbage), Plnená Kapusta (stuffed cabbage), Goulash (beef or veal, potatoes, carrots, onions), pork, goose and sausages. Also popular with meals were Kochania (jellied pig’s feet) and Kapusta Ochutenie (sauerkraut relish).

Beverages included Kofola and Zincica (soft drinks), aperitifs, wine, beer, vodka and liqueurs.

Desserts included Zemlovka (fruit pudding), Babovka (pound cake), Palacinky (pancakes), Orechové Rožky (nut rolls), Torty (cakes), Palacinky (crepes), Cheregie (deep fried desserts), Bublanina (cherry or blueberry squares), Kolachky (filled squares), Pretazeny Ornamentami (gingerbread) and Cukríky (candies).

For holidays and family occasions there were special dishes such as Palnina for Easter (veal loaf served cold, sliced or cubed) on a platter with other foods such as Cirek (Easter cheese), ham and Kielbassi. There was a Vianočné (Christmas bean dish), a Kyslá Hubová Polievka (sour mushroom soup) and even a Nové Matky Jačmeň Polievka (new mother’s barley soup).

NOTE: The S&D Polish Deli in Pittsburgh’s strip district carries Polish and Slovakian foods. I would recommend it. The food is great!! You can order products on-line also.

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.


SLOVAKIAN PREVIOUS POST ON ANOTHER BLOG OF MINE.


The Slovaks emigrated to western PA during the Oppressive Austro-Hungarian rule 
  • 1800's to 1950
  • Settled in Pittsburgh lower Homestead area
  • Families in area took in boarders
  • They were referred to as "Hunkies"
  • Millworkers, train loaders and worked in cinder pits
  • Hard workers
  • Roman Catholic & some Orthodox
  • Straka's Bar (Ann Street now)
WIKI ON SLOVAKIA LINK  ---  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovaks



Popular dishes prepared and eaten by Slovaks were
  • potato soups
       

  • nut rolls  
        




  • Easter cheese
      



  • Halusky   

  •   


  • potato dumplings 
  • Kolbassi (several spellings)  
  • piroghy (several spellings) 


  • stuffed cabbage 


  • goulash  


  • kolache  
  • other
LINKS BELOW TO MODERN VERSIONS OF SLOVAKIAN FOOD

Below at bottom of page are LOTS of Slovakian and Czechoslovakian






 Link above to death of owner of Strakas Bar on Ann Street in Homestead, longest surviving Slovakian Bar. 

END OF SLOVAKIAN PREVIOUS POST ON ANOTHER BLOG OF MINE.



New Czechoslovakian and Slovakian Video and Recipe and Informational Links



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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Melting Pot: Bulgarians and Macedonians - heraldstandard.com: Food


The PA Melting Pot – Part 6 Macedonians – Part 2 Bulgarians and Macedonians

The Macedonian and Bulgarian cultures, languages and customs are intertwined due to proximity and the migration of the Macedonians to Bulgaria and then to the US and an inevitable unification in the US.
About Bulgaria:  At one time it was part of the large Macedonian Empire (Bulgaria, northern Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia and the now Republic of Macedonia). Today it is a country in the Balkans on the western side of the Black Sea. It is surrounded by Romania to the north, Serbia to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia to the southwest, Greece to the south, and Turkey to the southeast. 
About Macedonia:  Some historians say that Macedonia endured the greatest hardships of any European country under five centuries of Turkish oppression.  To escape this they migrated to the Balkan countries (which includes Bulgaria) and then by World War II 200,000 had migrated to the US.  Many settled in western Pa.  They were hard-working and intelligent.
The first Bulgarians arrived in the Pittsburgh area in 1900, settled in West Homestead, Homestead, Duquesne, West Mifflin, Clairton and McKeesport and then later, some of them brought their families to Allegheny County. They were unskilled workers (mostly single men who lived in boarding houses) who mainly worked in the mills, mines and on railroads. Others did not stay.  They made money & returned to Bulgaria. During World War II Bulgarian and Macedonian women worked in factories.
The Macedonians united with the Bulgarians to form a strong union. Of those immigrants  who stayed: “According to the Global Pittsburgh website there were 33 Bulgarian-Macedonian bakeries at the Start of World War II in Allegheny County”.  The Bulgarians who didn’t work in the mills were strong entrepreneurs. At one time in the area the Macedonian-Bulgarian community was the largest in the United States and encompassed 500 families. The people were proud of their culture and emphasized education.
A typical Bulgarian factory lunch was a salad made of green peppers, vinegar, oil and garlic and a sandwich (either cheese, eggs or meat). Bulgarian foods (with a heavy Turkish influence) were Popska Yahnia (veal and onion stew), homemade yoghurt made into cheese (onions could be added to enhance the taste), Tarator (cold cucumber soup), Fasul or Bop (white bean soup), Yagni Spinak I Oris (lamb, spinach and rice), Korabeeki (yoghurt cookie), Apple Strudel and Baniza (flaky strudel dough filled with cottage cheese filling or spinach filling or leek and cheese fillings).
Some typical Macedonian foods are:  Macedonian Stuffed Cabbage with Egg and Lemon, Elia’s Stew (beef, onions, hot peppers, garlic, parsley, paprika and ketchup), Easy Mlechnik (True Macedonian Cheese Pie made with eggs, cream cheese and feta…), Revani (Macedonian Syrup Cake), Pinjur (Eggplant Dip), Kokoshka sou Oris (Macedonian Chicken and Rice), Banitza (also Bulgarian above), Sutlijach (Rice pudding) and Ravanija (coconut dessert).
Beverages:  Rakia is a popular alcoholic beverage and national drink of Bulgaria and Macedonia.  It is made of fruit which has been distilled and fermented.  Thick, dark espresso coffee, sugary sodas, mineral water and natural fruit juices are also popular.


Today in Homestead there is Bulgarian-Macedonian National Educational & Cultural Center:  http://www.bmnecc.org) “A nonprofit organization whose mission is to embrace and preserve the cultural values and rich traditions of the Bulgarian and Macedonian people. They also seek to articulate and promote those values and traditions as a way of enhancing tolerance and understanding among all peoples.”







Wednesday, March 19, 2014

THE PA MELTING POT - Part 6 Eastern Europeans - Part 2 - The Macedonians and Bulgarians


The PA Melting Pot – Part 6 Macedonians – Part 2 Bulgarians and Macedonians

The Macedonian and Bulgarian cultures, languages and customs are intertwined due to proximity and the migration of the Macedonians to Bulgaria and then to the US and an inevitable unification in the US.

About Bulgaria:  At one time it was part of the large Macedonian Empire (Bulgaria, northern Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia and the now Republic of Macedonia). Today it is a country in the Balkans on the western side of the Black Sea. It is surrounded by Romania to the north, Serbia to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia to the southwest, Greece to the south, and Turkey to the southeast. 

About Macedonia:  Some historians say that Macedonia endured the greatest hardships of any European country under five centuries of Turkish oppression.  To escape this they migrated to the Balkan countries (which includes Bulgaria) and then by World War II 200,000 had migrated to the US.  Many settled in western Pa.  They were hard-working and intelligent.

The first Bulgarians arrived in the Pittsburgh area in 1900, settled in West Homestead, Homestead, Duquesne, West Mifflin, Clairton and McKeesport and then later, some of them brought their families to Allegheny County. They were unskilled workers (mostly single men who lived in boarding houses) who mainly worked in the mills, mines and on railroads. Others did not stay.  They made money & returned to Bulgaria. During World War II Bulgarian and Macedonian women worked in factories.
The Macedonians united with the Bulgarians to form a strong union. Of those immigrants  who stayed: “According to the Global Pittsburgh website there were 33 Bulgarian-Macedonian bakeries at the Start of World War II in Allegheny County”.  The Bulgarians who didn’t work in the mills were strong entrepreneurs. At one time in the area the Macedonian-Bulgarian community was the largest in the United States and encompassed 500 families. The people were proud of their culture and emphasized education.
A typical Bulgarian factory lunch was a salad made of green peppers, vinegar, oil and garlic and a sandwich (either cheese, eggs or meat). Bulgarian foods (with a heavy Turkish influence) were Popska Yahnia (veal and onion stew), homemade yoghurt made into cheese (onions could be added to enhance the taste), Tarator (cold cucumber soup), Fasul or Bop (white bean soup), Yagni Spinak I Oris (lamb, spinach and rice), Korabeeki (yoghurt cookie), Apple Strudel and Baniza (flaky strudel dough filled with cottage cheese filling or spinach filling or leek and cheese fillings).

Some typical Macedonian foods are: Macedonian Stuffed Cabbage with Egg and Lemon, Elia’s Stew (beef, onions, hot peppers, garlic, parsley, paprika and ketchup), Easy Mlechnik (True Macedonian Cheese Pie made with eggs, cream cheese and feta…), Revani (Macedonian Syrup Cake), Pinjur (Eggplant Dip), Kokoshka sou Oris (Macedonian Chicken and Rice), Banitza (also Bulgarian above), Sutlijach (Rice pudding) and Ravanija (coconut dessert).

Beverages: Rakia is a popular alcoholic beverage and national drink of Bulgaria and Macedonia. It is made of fruit which has been distilled and fermented. Thick, dark espresso coffee, sugary sodas, mineral water and natural fruit juices are also popular.


Today in Homestead there is Bulgarian-Macedonian National Educational & Cultural Center:  http://www.bmnecc.org) “A nonprofit organization whose mission is to embrace and preserve the cultural values and rich traditions of the Bulgarian and Macedonian people. They also seek to articulate and promote those values and traditions as a way of enhancing tolerance and understanding among all peoples.”
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BELOW THE PHOTOS:  (Below the additional information are informational links, recipe links and videos!!)

Like the cuisines of its Balkan neighbors, Bulgarian cooking has assimilated many elements of Turkish cuisine. There is an emphasis on dairy products, mainly yogurt and cheese; on nuts, especially the walnuts and sunflower seeds of the Tundzha Valley; and on fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Traditional meat dishes—stews, sausages, kebabs (grilled meats)—are most often made of lamb, veal, or pork. Also popular are chicken, beef, brains, kidney, and liver. Bulgarian dishes are generally spicier than those of neighboring countries, and cooks are liberal in their use of herbs and strongly flavored condiments such as garlic and chili peppers.


Parsley is the most widely used herb in Bulgaria, fresh or dried, for soups, main courses, vegetable preserves, salads, roasted meat or fish. Thyme, fresh or dried, is used in meat and vegetables dishes, for soups, bean and pea stews, sauces, salads and pickles. Tarragon, basil, savory, mint, dill, lovage (similar to celery leaves and used in casseroles, soups, omelets and soups) and summer savory (known as choobritza) are all common. Choobritza is similar to oregano and used in pork, beef, vegetable and egg dishes, and in tomato sauces. The dried leaves are crushed and sprinkled on top of soups in the last few minutes of cooking or ground into a fine powder and eaten on bread. Chili peppers give a little zip to Balkan cooking and the favored sour flavors are achieved with lemon juice or vinegar.

Because many of the ingredients in Bulgarian cuisine are available in the United States, first- and second-generation Bulgarian Americans have continued cooking and consuming the dishes they enjoyed in Bulgaria. However, family meals often become more elaborate and meat more frequent if the family prospers in its adopted country. Conversely, the diets of poor, early immigrant laborers tended to match their humble living conditions.


Traditional breakfasts are simple, eaten at home before the work day begins. The breakfast usually consists of bread, fruit, and cheese—the most familiar being sirene, a salty, feta-like cheese, and kashkaval, a hard cheese similar to Cheddar— which are washed down with a glass of yogurt ( kiselo mlyako ) or boza, a millet drink. Mid-day meals tend to be soups or fried dishes, cooked in butter or oil, while grilled meat or spicy stews, preceded by a salad tossed in yogurt or in oil, are the mainstay of evening meals. Bulgarians have traditionally relied on numerous light snacks (fruit, cheese, bread, and other baked goods), eaten throughout the day, to sustain them as they labored in the fields or pastures or, later, in the factories and mines.


The classic Bulgarian dishes are simple and hearty. The "national soup," tarator, is a cold cucumber and yogurt soup seasoned with dill and garlic and topped with chopped walnuts. Another popular starter, the salata shopska, is a mixed salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, peppers, and onions tossed in vinegar and sunflower oil and sprinkled with a light layer of crumbled cheese. Bulgarian meals are invariably accompanied by the oven-baked bread known as pitka, which is served with ciubritsa, an aromatic condiment with a native herb resembling tarragon at its base.


Of the traditional Bulgarian main dishes, gyuvech is the best known. Baked in an earthenware dish, it is a rich, spicy stew of various vegetables— usually some combination of peppers, chilies, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and beans—cooked with meaty chunks of veal, pork, lamb, or beef, then slathered with a yogurt-egg sauce which bakes into a crust. Also popular, sarmi is made by stuffing cabbage leaves with minced meat and rice. Other common meat dishes are kebabche, a grilled patty of minced pork, lamb, and veal flavored with garlic, and kyufte, a meatball of the same ingredients, as well as the more universal chops and filets of veal and pork.


Desserts, too, reflect Bulgaria's history and its unique geopolitical position: the middle Eastern pastry baklava, a layered pastry of chopped nuts drenched in honey, is as common as garash, a chocolate layer cake with central European antecedents. Local fruits make another post-dinner favorite, the dessert varying with the season— strawberries, raspberries, plums, cherries, peaches, apples, and grapes. Coffee, or kafe, is consumed Turkish-style or as European espresso.

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Macedonians are big gourmands. The Macedonian cuisine, is a representative of the cuisine of the Balkans, reflecting Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern influences and to a lesser extent Italian, Mediterranean and Hungarian ones. The relatively warm climate provides excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Thus, Macedonian cuisine is particularly diverse.

Traditional Macedonian foods reflect both the region's indigenous crops and its ethnically mixed history. Ingredients such as feta cheese, yogurt, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplant are commonly used. Food is often flavored with paprika, lemon juice, garlic, or vinegar. When meat is served, it is usually lamb or mutton. Seasonal fruits such as sour cherries, plums, quinces, and grapes are made into thick jam ( slatko ), which is traditionally served to visitors and eaten from a glass jar with a spoon. Milk is used to make a rich cheese-like appetizer, kajmak, or is fermented into yogurt. There are several versions of pindzhur, a traditional Macedonian vegetable dish made from tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplant. It is usually either baked or stirfried, and served with feta cheese and fresh bread. Tarator is a cucumber salad seasoned with yogurt, vinegar, and garlic, and sometimes garnished with walnuts. Other traditional dishes include stuffed peppers ( polneti piperki ), stuffed grape leaves ( sarma od lozov list ), and mousaka ( musaka ), a casserole of meat, eggplant, and rice bound with a custard sauce. A popular item at barbecues is kjebapchinja, a seasoned mixture of beef or veal and lamb that is grilled and served with scallions, tomatoes, and hot peppers. Also served is muchkalica, seasoned mutton grilled on skewers. Festive occasions call for special baked goods such as baklava, a honey-dipped layered pastry often filled with ground walnuts, and burek, a yeast pastry filled with feta cheese. Macedonians also enjoy Turkish coffee ( Tursko Kafe ), a legacy from centuries of Turkish rule.


  

  

  

  


  

  



THIS INFORMATION FROM A PREVIOUS POST ON BULGARIA AND MACEDONIA. 

·         The Bulgarians and Macedonians emigrated to Western Pennsylvania from 1905 through World War II. 
·         Usually they were young male mill workers who stayed in boarding houses
·         Came to make enough money for relatives at home
·         1912-1923 – the most came because of the height of the Balkan War
·         Areas where they came from:  Sofia (west Bulgaria) & central area of Bulgaria (known for its roses)
·         Macedonian and Bulgarians linked and settled in same areas
·         Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic
·         Bulgarian-Macedonian Beneficial Association began in 1935
·         Emphasis on learning and preserving tradition
·         Opened multiple bakeries:  One of them being West Homestead Baking Company
·         Known for Rye among other breads

Foods: 
·         Homemade yoghurt
·         Yoghurt cookies (korabeeki)
·         Cold cucumber Soup (tarator)
·         White Bean Soup (fasul or bop)
·         Strudels
o   Apple
o   Banitza dough (flaky strudel) with fillings
§  Cottage cheese
§  Spinach
§  Leek & cheese

  




Modern links for homemade Bulgarian yoghurt


http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000176.html with a homemade yoghurt note pdf

http://creatingnirvanatoday.blogspot.com/2011/01/making-yogurt-at-home.html - more than you will ever want to know about yoghurt

  



Links for yoghurt cookies




  




Links for cold cucumber soup




  




Links for white bean soup (bob chorba)



(scroll down page; other good stuff here)

 




Strudels

Apple




Banitza