Our exclusive translation from 1921 continues today with more on the life and times of one of the most notable Czech chefs and cookbook authors in America at that time!
This story provides a wonderful look at the struggles, challenges, dreams, and opportunities present for our Czech ancestors!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XLIV, Year: 1921, Pages: 264-283
Paměti českých osadníků v Americe
“From his youth he had as a hobby the study of gastronomical literature. He was not in America very long time, when he transferred his knowledge into the first Czechoamerican cookbook, which was the prologue to the much larger Czechoamerican Cookbook he later wrote for the publishing house of August Geringer. After his arrival in America, Beránek stayed in New York as an editor of one of the Czech magazines there, but shortly after this he moved west as a candidate to become a future priest at the St. Francis Seminary located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But he did with his vestments the same thing as Karel Havlicek did before him.
He preferred instead to start the hard struggle of a normal life rather than to deny his conscience.
For some time he was employed by the publisher A. Novak in Milwaukee. In this job he also travelled to Czech settlements throughout Wisconsin selling books printed by the aforementioned publisher, which included the cookbook, written by Beránek himself.
He liked to tell a funny story from those times. In one town he met a Czech farmer who bought some books of him including the cookbook. When the farmer recognized that the young colporteur has no idea about where he might find lodging for that night, he invited Beránek to stay at his farm. It was night when the famer knocked on the window of his house and called “Wake up honey, and open the door for us! I brought a “kuchařka” for you!” (You see the term kuchařka has 2 meanings in Czech: one is a cookbook, but as well it can mean a female cook). His wife opened the window and shouted in an angry voice! “What does this mean? I don’t wish to have any kuchařka here! Does this mean that I am not a good enough kuchařka for you, you damned old sinner?” But the mistake was soon explained and the farmer’s wife welcomed, with joy, the printed kuchařka book, instead of a living one, as well as its author, and everybody had a good laugh over it.
In 1876, Beránek moved to Chicago where he tried to use his experiences in a variety of ways. For some time he was employed by the Svornost publishers where he remained a friend of the employer until the time of his death. He also started to teach at a Czech school in the northwestern part of the city. At the same time he began his activities in Czech social life and continued in that work until the time when his disease finally stopped it.
Shortly after his arrival to Chicago, he started a campaign against the teaching of German in the public schools and Beránek was the president of a Czech committee, which was working for this purpose. Meetings were taking place in the gymnasium of the Sokol Gymnastic Union, located on Taylor Street and the Sokol (members of the union) sent a special delegation to the school committee. The result of this campaign failed, thanks to there being discord among the Czech community. What was done by one fraction was counteracted by another one, just as we can also see today. Plus a lot of time and energy was spent in vain.”
Stay with us here as tomorrow we continue the wonderful story of this Czech-American Chef, author, and much, much more!
Onward To Our Past®