The bustling Strip District street is a pantheon of diversity, hosting cultures and cuisines ranging from West Coast fish tacos to Italian biscotti. As I approach the locally famous S&D Polish Deli, the white storefront festooned with Polish emblems beckons customers from all backgrounds inside. Within the store, an array of Kielbasy, or sausages, and Haluszki, or noodle dishes are on display under a glass countertop, and hundreds of specialty ethnic foods crowd the shelves in the store’s back.
The Polish Delikatesy is popular for its “slow food”; its ingredients are fresh and cooked in the store, following traditional recipes. Testifying to the rich history of Pittsburgh immigrants, there are three varieties of the Haluszki: Pittsburgh, Polish, and Slovak (“About Us.”). These simple, filling dishes provide a shared cultural narrative. Like Pittsburgh itself, Polish cuisine is a mix of different culinary traditions, incorporating Slavic, Turkic, Germanic, and Jewish customs and ingredients into its recipes (“Polish Cuisine.”).
As I walk through Pittsburgh’s Sidney Street, I almost miss the nondescript red and white stucco exterior of the Polish Falcons of America building. The organization has its roots in a group opposing Czarist Russia the January Uprising of 1863, dedicating itself to the motto “A sound mind in a sound body”. In 1917, the Polish Falcons of America trained 25,000 young men for an expeditionary force in World War One, fighting for both Polish independence and American interests, later serving as a standing army for the new country of Poland (“Our History.”).
The group today serves as a fraternal benefit society providing “Physical, social, and financial welfare” for its 23,000 members, offering cultural and recreational programs and preserving Polish tradition. Through perpetuating these core values, the Falcons continue to serve America’s Polish community to this day (“Our History”).
1- “Polish Cuisine.” Polish American Deli. Polish American Deli, 2006. Web. 04 May 2014.
2- “About Us.” S&D Polish Deli. S&D Polish Deli, n.d. Web. 4 May 2014.
3- “Our History.” Polish Falcons of America History. Polish Falcons of America, 2013. Web. 04 May 2014.