Czech Genealogy & Culture: An Exclusive Translation and a Classic 1896 Czech Cookbook
Food and family history! A combination that goes together like bacon and eggs or knedlíky and zeli!
As so often happens in genealogy, a bit of unexpected convergence of the stars, or fate recently smiled down on me and the result is this, our newest series about Czech food, genealogy and culture.
Let me explain.
Out of the blue I received a nice large box from my cousin, who had been visiting their old family home down south. In the box, along with a letter was an old book. The letter explained the fact the family had found this book while cleaning out some old bookcases and upon taking a family vote had decided I was the best person to entrust it to. While flattered, I was not ready for the best part. The book is titled “Nová Domácí Kuchařka pro Česko-Americké Hospodyné”. It was written by Emanuel Persein Beránek and was published by August Geringer, the same publisher of our beloved Czech-American annual journals, Amerikán Národní Kalendář. It is a first edition copy and therefore I discovered its publication date was 1896!
Needless to say I was thrilled at this marvelous addition to my bookcase before I even carefully opened the cover. Once I did that, it just kept getting better!
Written in Czech it holds over 500 pages containing 1,376 recipes! And a few more valuable and wonderful treats for those of us who relish foods from our ancestors.
While I was just beginning to look through this wonderful gift I got interrupted and had to put it down.
As so often happens with these things, when I made it back to my desk I became immersed in catching up on phone messages, email, etc. I was just about ready to call it a day when a particular email caught my attention. It came from Martin Pytr in Monrovia, one of our favorite translation team members. He was sending in a portion of a project and while I almost made the mistake of leaving it for the morning, my curiosity got the best of me and I opened it up.
The translation was from the 1921 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář and was his translation of an article about the life and times of an early Czech immigrant to America. It took me awhile to put the pieces together, but all of a sudden I actually got a chill when I realized the translation sent from Monrovia was for the author of the book, which my cousins had just discovered and sent to me! I think I could hear the eerie music from some old science fiction movie playing in my head. It was a very weird coincidence for sure. A wonderful one, but weird all the same!
So where do we begin? Do we start with the story of Beránek’s life first or do we begin with the cookbook?
Decisions, decisions! You’ll have to come back tomorrow to see which we decided upon!
Onward To Our Past®