I’ve been returning to the neighborhood on the upper east side of Manhattan where I was reared – growing up in this area many decades ago bears no resemblance to the upper east side of today.  The reason for my returning to my old ‘hood is for physical therapy at a hospital facility that was just down the block from where I lived growing up.   So in the past several months I have walked from the subway stop to the hospital passing by the buildings and stores I remember – and noting which ones were no longer in existance.   So many stores and buildings are gone now – replaced by high-rise upscale apartment buildings -with new stores and restaurants more suited to today’s living style and demographics of that area of Manhattan called Yorkville.

I grew up in a demographic that was close to 95% central European immigrants – both of my parents were born in the former Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia and The Czech Republic.  At that time in the 1950s there were at least five Czech/Slovak restaurants in the neighborhood, and one was reviewed in Gourmet magazine in the June 1943 issue.  It was just steps from the apartment building I lived in located in a stand-alone building site which was the location of a Czechoslovakian gymnastic organization called “Sokol”.  For a history of Sokol, go to http://sokolnewyork.org and click on “about”.  I was doing gymnastics long before it became a popular Olympic sport! There was a restaurant and bar on the street level of the building and behind that is a huge gymnasium.   The restaurant review in Gourmet magazine  featured roast duck – as only the Czechs and Slovaks can prepare.  A duck dinner, including soup, and dessert cost $1.00 in 1943♠.  There were also several Hungarian and German restaurants at the further end of the Yorkville area with East 86th Street being the epicenter of German immigrants.

This diatribe brings me to what I will cook out of my freezer tonight for dinner.  Chicken Paprikas (prounounced pop-ree-kash) in Slovak.  The Hungarians make this dish also, but Slovaks don’t use green or red peppers in the dish.  A simple dish of sauteed onion, lightly browned chicken pieces sprinkled with sweet  paprika (not the Spanish smoked style) and thickened at the end with sour cream that has been mixed with flour for thickening the juices.   Served with a little dumpling-like morsel made from flour, egg and water and small dollops of the dough are dropped into boiling salted water.  This dish is traditionally served with a cucumber salad – peeled cucumber thinly sliced, seasoned with white vinegar, a little sugar and chopped dill with a pinch of salt & pepper.

My food shopping today consists of buying sour cream,  hothouse cucumber and fresh dill for a salad and a new can of Hungarian sweet paprika as the one in my pantry has not been used in a long time.   If you’ve read my post from the day before when I prepared a chicken recipe from a cookbook I am judging, you may think my serving chicken two days in a row is boring – but I can truly say that the two recipes are miles apart in taste and the organic chicken is so delicious, there is nothing boring about eating this chicken two days in a row.

My short shopping list in hand….I’m off to the food store.

Stay tuned.

I’ll let you know if I was able to stick to my short shopping list – it’s all I need for today!

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