Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Preserving Food Memories: What about Schliskas?

A few years ago, I started a cousins’ group on Yahoo. First there were just four of us girl cousins – two living in Ohio, me in Arizona, and one in California. After awhile we expanded it to include our brothers and more cousins. We span northern and southern Calif., Arizona, Ohio, and Florida.

We rarely agree on politics or stem cell research but our best discussions have been about food.

We have dissected meals in our memories and talked about Aunt Fannie’s soup and other foods from our childhoods. My father who was born in Farrell, PA. He had nine brothers and sisters. In the early years, we would all congregate at Aunt Fannie’s house or Aunt Cecile’s house and have amazing feasts and backyard picnics. There was no Hamburger Helper here.

Eventually there was some familial spinoffs,  a sister-in-law bonded with my mom and we became closer to their budding family or my mom’s brothers and their families would join the fray.

Food would still be an event and on the holidays, one of Olympic proportions. The dining room table would spread open adding leaves and more tables would be set up including the kids’ table. I think I sat at the kids’ table until I was 20.

My mom loved to cook and she always engaged my father in much of the peeling, chopping, and grinding. My maternal grandmother was an amazing cook, especially since she never looked at a recipe. It was just a pinch of this and a sprinkling of that. She made the most divine challah (egg bread) long before bread machines were invented. Her apple pie is beyond compare. I have never eaten an apple pie that was as good as hers.

My mother followed recipes and there was little deviation.

I don’t recall when schliskas made their debut into the Thanksgiving repertoire but they did. I personally was indifferent to the turkey and some of the other fixings, I could’ve just eaten schliskas. In our house we looked forward to schliskas not Thanksgiving. Schliskas were only served on Thanksgiving.

Thinking back, I feel that was an overkill because there should’ve been national schliskas day. We already had a million things on the menu (most of them carbs), we didn’t need schliskas too. 

Schliskas came up in the cousins’ conversation about food. Someone else called them schliskies. Only my brother and I had a clear recollection of what they were or how my mother made them (vaguely). Other cousins described them differently.

My parents are long gone and before they were gone, they stopped making elaborate meals as schliskas was a day long multi step dish. No one thought to ask them to write down the recipe. That is sad. Not that I would attempt it, but it would be a good personal memento to have. I can see my brother making them because he’s a more adventurous cook. Maybe when I would visit him, that could be something we could make together.

Here’s a recipe from a google search; it’s similar but not the same.

The moral of this story is preserve your family recipes for the next generation. People need to grasp onto their cultural and culinary past.

When I did a google search, I realized that I have written about schliskas before. Around this time of year, schliskas goes directly to my brain… which is better than my hips.

  1. From my cousin Judy:

    I just made shliskas last week. Courtney loves them. I cheat though. I buy the frozen potato gnocchi’s at the Italian store near me. I also sautee onions first. I brown bread crumbs and season with salt and a little bit of sugar. That is how my mom taught me. I think she learned from Aunt Fannie and Aunt Cecile. I’m curious to hear how everyone else makes theirs.
    I think the Zoldan girls should put a family cookbook together.

  2. I may bite the bullet and make them with gnocchi sometime later in the year. Then I’ll get it out of my system and be done with it. Small world that your mom made them too and that you knew what they were and you live in Tucson too!

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