Valley Voices – November 2019

Tastes of Home

I have always felt a connection to my Slovak heritage — growing up listening to my grandmother ‘Baba’ Rosalie Meyer and great-grandmother ‘Baba’ Anna Makara speak Slovak, hearing stories of my great-grandfather Joseph Makara knowing little English outside of the word, “eat,” and myself, indulging in traditional Slovak dishes that have been commonplace in our family kitchen. 

In fact, it was not until high school that I realized how few kids my age ate as much cabbage as me — stuffed cabbage, kielbasa and sauerkraut, ham and cabbage soup, haluski — all were, and still are, in frequent rotation at my house.

In first grade, my teacher created a classroom cookbook that featured a recipe from every student. Recipes included Kraft macaroni and cheese, cheesy bread and casserole. I submitted caraway seed soup with dumplings. I haven’t had that soup since my Baba Rosalie passed in 2002, but, boy, do I remember the smell and oh, so faintly, the taste. 

My connection to traditional food does not stop there. My mom Dona Sherman is known by a fair share in the community for her homemade pierogies. I can’t say I’ve inherited the gene as much more than a proficient at best pierogi pincher, but I’m grateful to have grown up with the Polish style dumplings so readily available — and admired by many who have been able to try them. 

Last Christmas I even took my first try at cooking palancinky, or Slovak Crepes Suzettes. Pouring the batter and swirling it thin, then filling each with cottage cheese and cinnamon or currant jelly before rolling and topping with sour cream was not as easy as I had expected, but the reward in recreating a traditional family staple was one of a kind. 

This November, we celebrate the foods that have played a part in creating us. Through embracing the flavors of the old world, we can honor our ancestors and continue to write the stories that make us unique. 

As you flip through the pages full of delicious foods, think about what dishes remind you of home. If you would like to share, feel free to send them to us — we would love to try your family flavors. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Taylor

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