By: Kate Kulpa & Stacy Portilla
Berwyn’s Houby Festival is meant to be a celebration of the Czech heritage that has been a big part of the cityin the past. But the traditional Czech food, including the namesake Houby (mushroom in Czech) was in short supply during last weekend’s fest
Out of the dozens of food stands at Houby Fest, only one stand seemed to offer traditional Czech food. This was the stand for the restaurant “Czech Kitchens,” a Czech restaurant which offered bread dumplings, pierogis, and potato pancakes to fest-goers. The menu included a wide variety of other Czech and Slavic foodsincluding dumplings. Robert Curek, an employee at Czech Kitchens, said that this year was the busiest the stand has ever been. Curek also said that the restaurant’s owner was inspired by his Polish wife’s heritage to cook Slavic foods. It seems as though the stand’s popularity could be becausethe food was great or because it seemed to be the only Czech stand around.
The majority of food stands at the fest offered traditional Mexican foods, along with the occasional Italian food or American food stand. One of the Italian stands, Al’s Restaurant Pizzeria, offered pizza and beer. Laura Redisi and Dannie Guerrero, both employees of the pizzeria, also noticed the lack of Czech food at the fest.
“Berwyn used to have a strong Czech population. Over the years though, the community has been increasingly Latin or Mexican. I think you can really see it by how many more Mexican food stands there are now than in the past,” said Redisi.
One Mexican stand though, is still trying to keep in touch with the theme of Houby Fest, by creating “mushroom tamales.” Tamale Hut Café, owned by Jaime Flores, sold out of its special tamales by Sunday morning.
The café also offers traditional Mexican foods such as “Tenga,” which is shredded chicken cooked in a chipotle sauce. According to Flores, this recipe originated in Mexico City. So did his recipe for “elote,” which includes mayo, cheese, lime, butter, cayenne pepper, and corn.