Heading into a new year with hope and worry

by Terry B on December 28, 2016

Christmas in Pilsen, Chicago

We’re taking a break from cooking one more week. Enjoying time with family, simple dinners in, the familiar comfort of meals out in favorite places, quiet walks in our new neighborhood. The photo above was taken on one of those walks on Christmas Eve.

Pilsen is an old Chicago neighborhood just southwest of downtown. It has deep working class roots, dating back to housing built in the mid- to late-1800s, first for Irish and German immigrant workers, then later, Bohemians—mostly Czechoslovakian—brought in to work in factories and lumber mills after the great fire in 1871. In fact, the architectural style of our new old house is called Workers Cottage. The buildings are simply designed, human-scaled and solidly built.

Cities evolve. Neighborhoods evolve. Around World War I, Mexican families began to move into Pilsen. By the 1960s, the neighborhood had become predominantly Mexican. It still is, particularly West Pilsen, where we live. For us, it means great taquerias pretty much in any direction and tamale ladies on street corners, their wares reflecting different regional cuisines.

More important, though, it means warm, welcoming neighbors, ready to help shovel snow, lend an extension cord or just smile and say “good morning.” Working class families sitting on their front porches watching their kids play on the broad sidewalks in the evening. Parents walking their kids to school in the morning.

As much as we love our new old house, we love our neighborhood and our neighbors even more. To Marion and me, this feels comfortingly like our own childhoods. To us, this is how America works best. We can’t help but worry about what lies ahead for our neighbors—and for us. But we also have to hope for—and work for—making our country work for all of us.

See you next week (next year!) with a new recipe.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Dani H December 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm

It’s hard to hold onto hope right now with so many unknowns ahead of us.

Wishing you, Marion and your family a very Happy New Year!

Barbara Fazio December 28, 2016 at 8:07 pm

So glad that you are happy in your move. We’re of former…30 years ago…NY roots, but so love the many great Mexican, including upscale Nuevo Mexican, places around us. Replaced the mostly Sicilian ethnic places around our roots. Happiest of New Year’s to you, Marion and family. Peace!

Lou Pupich December 28, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Just prior to reading your latest post, I was telling Marie how I was jonesing for home-made tamales. They’re available at the local farmer’s market during the summer, but during the winter–fuhgeddabouit. Best wishes for a happy healthy new year to you and your family.

Jeri December 28, 2016 at 8:46 pm

So many people find moving stressful. Others view it as an adventure. I look forward to many culinary inspirations and your always delightful anecdotes. Happy New Year and all the best in your new adventure.

Jeri December 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm

P.S. I use the wonderful frying pan I won on your blog almost every day. It is the single most amazing pan I have ever owned. I’m not sure I ever told you how much I love and appreciate it. So Happy New Year once again.

Diane Donohue December 28, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Oh Terry. We used to live near 18th St. & Canalport. A little mixed area of artists and Mexican families. Miss Pilsen so much. Loved smelling the aromas from all the tortilla companies. Not to mention the Friday arrival of homemade tamales at the corner supermercado! Enjoy your culturally rich neighborhood and new old house. Happy New Year to you and Marion! Love your posts.😊

Terry B December 29, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Thanks everyone, for your kind words.

Lou, I can’t imagine finding decent tamales should be too hard where you are. Not as easy as walking down the street like we do, but still, you’re in LA.

Jeri, we love our pans from that collection too!

Diane, we were just in your part of Pilsen recently for Second Friday art openings. A lot of fun and some great holiday shopping accomplished.

Anita December 30, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Happy New Year to you both… it was so good to have met you in person this year!

Terry B December 30, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Happy new year, Anita! It was great meeting you too.

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