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Showing posts from 2014

Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition

Celebrate Czech Heritage Month with me! It's been over two months since my last blog post because, in the interim, my friend/co-curator  Lori Najvar and I finished and installed the exhibition we've been researching and designing for the last two years--Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition. What better way to announce it to my blog followers than on the first day of Czech Heritage Month in Texas.

The exhibition opened September 11th at the Museum of the Coastal Bend (MCB) in Victoria, Texas with a reception that featured Czech foods like kolaches, and sausage and sauerkraut. See photos of the event on PolkaWorks' Flickr account. In partnership with the Victoria County Chapter of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas, the exhibition will be on display until December 6th this year.

Though my passion is traditional food, Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition captures the full breadth of activities and traditions in the Texas Czech community in the 21st century. It's comprised of p…

Part 2 - Texas Czech Foodways: A Cultural Legacy

Texas Czech cooking is rich and simple and, like other ethnic cuisines, it has its emblematic dishes – sausage and roasted meats: baked goods like kolaches, buchty and strudel; dumplings and egg noodles; pickles and sauerkraut; soups, picnic stew, and fried chicken; and homemade beer and wine.
There is no shortage, especially in the last couple of years, of articles by food and travel writers about kolaches or sausage. And there is general information about the most common foods eaten by Czechs in books like Krasna Amerika and Sean Gallup’s Journeys Into Czech Moravian Texas.  Those books and a few general Texas cookbooks include small sections on food that cover the basics. They talk about sausage, beef clubs, kolaches and strudel, noodles and beer. But there is so much more to Texas Czech food. The most interesting information lives in primary sources like oral histories, diaries, memoirs, letters and newspaper recipe columns. To tell the full story of how Bohemian, Moravian and Slo…

Texas Czech Foodways: A Cultural Legacy (Part 1)

Last month I had the opportunity to give a talk to the Texas Czech Genealogical Society (TCGS) at their meeting called "From the Ship to the Plow" in Temple at the SPJST Home Office. The presentation took so much work, I thought I'd break it up and offer it to my blog readers, slightly modified. Here is part 1 of 4. Please comment and let me know what you think. I love feedback. And you can read an article and listen to a KWBU radio piece about the meeting and some of its participants here
I am very passionate about food and have to thank Charlene Hurta of the TCGS for inviting me to talk with a captive audience about it. My presentation was very visual with lots of photographs. Please know that all of them were taken by either me or by Lori Najvar of PolkaWorks unless otherwise noted.

You might be wondering why someone would be talking about food at a genealogy meeting. At the earlier TCGS meeting in Caldwell in February, I heard Charlene Hurta talk about genealogy work…

Můj Milý Dědečku

Yesterday was my father's 71st birthday and we celebrated him last Sunday with a lunch at his house. He asked to have beef stew (recipe below), corn bread and lemon pie. There's nothing traditional about these foods except that my mother's been making them fantastically for years. But on this occasion, I did revive a tradition from my childhood for my kids and my Dad.

George Kallus, my maternal grandfather, died in 1979 when I was about 12.  For much of my childhood before that, my parents, brother and sister and I lived out of state… Ohio, Georgia (twice), New Jersey, Connecticut. So, I don't have strong memories of my grandfather and the ones I do have…  well, we know how memories are. They could be accurate or not.

My grandfather was very tall. He was kind. He had a sweet smile and a dimpled chin. I have no memories of him anywhere except in his home in Hallettsville which he and my grandmother bought in the late 1930s; the home she lived in after his death for ano…