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

Mele "Mel" Vojvodich

Mele Vojvodich Jr. was born of Serbian ancestry on March 28, 1929 in Steubenville, Ohio. He went on to become Major-General in the USAF. For his bravery he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Looking back at the career, Vojvodich received his pilot wings in 1950 from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Six years later, he graduated from Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. During 1971, he completed his studies at National War College Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington DC.

. Read more ...

Publishing

The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija

THE HISTORICAL AND SPIRITUAL HEARTLAND OF THE SERBIAN PEOPLE

Published by: Sebastian Press, Los Angeles. Co-publishers: Institute for Balkan Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade • The Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America • Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade • BLAGO Fund • Serbica Americana • Interklima-grafika, Vrnjci

“This book on Serbia’s Christian Heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, its heartland in medieval times and through Ottoman domination, is intended to introduce to a wide reading public the oldest and richest treasury of Serbian medieval history and culture. Its authors are leading specialists in the fields in which they write, so readers may place complete reliance on the factual accuracy of the material.”

“The editor and publisher have the fervent hope that today’s peoples in Kosovo and Metohija will be able to begin their discussions not from what divides them but from what unites them, emphasizing in positive and constructive ways the areas in which a Serbo-Albanian ethnic symbiosis has existed. This book invites all to consider their differences in the light of history and of the future.”

Authors: Gojko Subotić • Alex Dragnich • Slavko Todorovich • Thomas A. Emmert • Sima M. Ćirković • Arthur Evans • G. K. Chesterton • Boško Bojović • Atanasije Jevtić • Alexander F. Hilferding • Rebecca West • Rebecca West • Stamatis Skliris • Dušan T. Bataković • Radovan Samardžić • Dimitrije Djordjević • Dimitrije Bogdanović • Sava Janjić • Andrew Wermuth • F. W. Harvey and others

Read more ...