A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

How Serbian Immigrants Made an Ohio Town the ‘Fried Chicken Capital of the World’

From Vojvodina, with lard.
by Luke Fater, January 30, 2020

You can only try pahovana piletina in two places. One is Vojvodina, Serbia, where the unique style of fried chicken was born. The other is Ohio, where “Barberton-style fried chicken,” as it’s known there, became one small town’s claim to fame. What started as a comforting meal for an immigrant family came to define a community, turning a humble Ohio town into the “Fried Chicken Capital of the World.”

Smiljka and Manojlo Topalsky weren’t the only Eastern Europeans to leave home for a burgeoning Ohio farm-town called Barberton in the early 1900s. Their grandson, Milos Papich, points out that one of the oldest Serbian social clubs in the country is there, an hour south of Akron. The emigrated family owned a successful 300-acre dairy farm for decades.

During the Great Depression, though, the Topalskys lost everything but the farmhouse. Luckily, Smiljka could still cook.

On July 4th, 1933, the Topalskys opened an eatery out of that farmhouse. They called it Belgrade Gardens, and sold soups, chillis, and sandwiches to their struggling neighbors. “But it wasn’t enough to raise a family,” Papich says over the phone. One day, the story goes, Smiljka was in the back cooking a classic Serbian chicken dish for her family that she’d learned from her mother. After it caught the nose of one outspoken bank-teller, says Papich, he demanded they sell it to their regulars—a mishmash of recently immigrated Eastern Europeans who longed for a taste of home.

Once they had a taste, they couldn’t get enough. The chicken became an overnight hit among town denizens, and love of Smiljka’s fried chicken wove itself into the fabric of the community. “It kind of fell into their lap,” says Papich. “My grandparents never would have dreamed that the food they grew up with would be so well-received.”

Within seven years of putting Serbian fried chicken on their farmhouse menu, the Topalskys were able to buy back 65 acres of land from the bank, says Papich, current owner of 87-year-old Belgrade Gardens. The restaurant stayed with the family as much as pahovana piletina stays with Barberton. And to the purists in this still chicken-smitten town, Smiljka’s original dish is all but scripture.

SA

 

People Directory

James Scully

James Scully is the author of 10 books of poetry, including Donatello’s Version (Curbstone Press/Northwestern University Press, 2007), four book-length translations, the seminal essay collection Line Break: Poetry as Social Practice (Curbstone Press/ Northwestern University Press, 1988/2005), and Vagabond Flags: Serbia & Kosovo: Journal, Scrapbook & Notes (Azul Editions, 2009). The founding editor of Art on the Line series (Curbstone Press, 1981-1986), he has been a key figure in the movement to radicalize the theory and practice of American poetry—in how it is lived as well as in how it is written.

Born in 1937 in New Haven, CT, Scully lives in Vermont with his wife, Arlene. They’ve been married since 1960 and have a son, John, and a daughter, Deirdre. His awards include a National Defense Fellowship 1959-1962; an Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship (Rome, Italy 1962-63); the Lamont Poetry Award 1967 for The Marches; the Jenny Taine Memorial Award 1971 for translation; a Guggenheim Fellowship (Santiago, Chile 1973-74); National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships 1976-77 and 1990; the Islands & Continents Translation Award 1980; and the Bookbuilders of Boston Award 1983 for book cover design.

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Publishing

The Presence of Transcendence

Essays on Facing the Other through Holiness, History and Text

by Bogoljub Sijakovic

The essays collected in this book venture into various domains of philosophy, such as ontology and epistemology, anthropology and ethics, philosophy of history and history of philosophy, philosophy of religion and theory of the mystical, poetics and hermeneutics. The problems here thematized, which are brought to us primarily by the tradition of Hellenism and Christianity as well as life itself, are both traditional and contemporary: self-knowledge and knowledge of God, transcendence and paradoxy, theodicy and anthropodicy, sacrifice, violence, holiness, responsibility, decision-making, evil, guilt, repentance, forgiveness, memory, as well as: wisdom, suffering, good, the other, freedom, fate, history, the Balkans, war, rationality, and also: reading, dialogue, poetry, metaphysic of light.