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

Aleksandra Denda

Aleksandra Denda is an internationally recognized, New York-based music artist.

Over the span of years, she’s been performing and recording throughout USA, Europe, Asia and South America, as a leader and as featured artist in the wide array of musical genres, spanning from Soul to World Music, Brazilian, R&B, and Jazz.

Some of these projects include performances with American Idol's Michael Lynche (aka Big Mike) as his background vocalist, recording with the flamenco star Jose Merce on the Latin Grammy nominated album Mi Unica Llave, and co-founding ROSA the international traditional Serbian all-female a cappella group endorsed by NY Folklore Society.

Read more ...

Publishing

The Meaning of Reality

Essays on Existence and Communion, Eros and History

by Christos Yannaras

The collection of articles traces the thought of Christos Yanaras through his long journey in discovering the meaning of existence, communion, eros, and history. It is a cause of immense joy that no fewer than twenty articles of passionate significance and substance have at present been gathered together in this volume under the title The Meaning of Reality.

Yannaras is undoubtedly one of the most significant thinkers of our time. Kallistos Ware once described him as "the most creative and prophetic religious thinker at work in Greece today," while Rowan Williams characterizes him as "one of the most significant Christian philosophers in Europe." His very wide and no less deep education helps him to develop an inimitable blend of philosophy, theology, and social criticism, and to speak in an original way about the traditional and contemporary issues of human existence, as well as the latest challenges of modern empirical science and political engagement. A detailed knowledge of the writings of the Holy Fathers has always been his foundation amidst the labyrinth of modern thought - which is inimately bound up with psychoanalysis, environmental issues, human rights, postmodernism, and pluralism , to mention just a few. Insistence on the primacy, uniqueness, and eternal value of human personality prevails in almost all his works and inspires his own vigorous theological and ecumenical engagement, based on the Orthodox eucharistic and ascetic tradition.