Texas Czech Heritage Month
By Sharon Schweitzer
In 1999, the Texas legislature declared October as officially Texas Czech Heritage month. Since then Czech food, festivals, culture, education, and entertainment have continued to expand throughout the state, while also strengthening the ties between the two regions.
That the Czech language is still spoken in Texas is possibly a reaction to prohibitions by Austrian authorities on using the language. Early on, the new Czech-Texans established schools and newspapers to teach and maintain their language. Czech was being taught in the classroom in Cat Spring in 1855. The state’s largest public college, the University of Texas at Austin, teaches Czech in the modern language department.
There are also several Czech festivals that occur in Texas, such as Westfest, where the community celebrates its heritage over several days. However, the unique blend of Czech and Texan traditions is a little more prominent. Besides the dialect spoken there, some aspects of the festival might be unfamiliar to someone who grew up in the Czech Republic. Two tournaments occur alongside each other, one for the Czech card game taroky and the other for the American lawn game washers. Polka music is heard playing by those riding attractions at the fair, another very American tradition. Additionally, although beauty pageants occur in other parts of the world, pageants in the United States are very popular and widespread. Westfest holds its own contest each year, crowning a “Miss Westfest” clad in a kroj.
Fascinatingly enough, the city of West is also known as the “Czech Heritage Capital of Texas” and “Home of the Official Kolache of the Texas Legislature,” this town proudly displays its Czech heritage through the descendants of the original immigrants.
Many places with Czech heritage continue to celebrate it with festivals or museums honoring the immigrants to the area. Though not the largest immigrant group to come to Texas, the Czechs have made a lasting impact on the state.
To try out some Czech cuisine, here is a recipe for Klobasniky.
This is the old-fashioned way; it takes 5-7 hours. Note: Do not skimp on the quality of sausage used.
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 small can evaporated milk (5.33 oz =approximately 2/3 cup)
About 8 cups flour
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
3 drops lemon extract
2 to 2 1/2 pounds cooked, cool smoked sausage
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add milk, sugar, evaporated milk, and 4 cups flour. Mix thoroughly until smooth, cover and let rest at least 1 hour in a warm place.
In a separate bowl place egg yolks, melted butter, oil, salt, and lemon extract. Mix with mixer. Add this to first mixture and blend. Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour gradually and mix well using a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Place a third of the dough at a time on floured board. Sprinkle flour on top of dough and roll out with rolling pin to about 1/3-inch thickness.
Cut in squares about 2×2 inches or a little larger. Place cooked, cool sausage pieces on each square and enclose, sealing edges.
Place on greased baking sheet with sealed edge on bottom. Brush lightly with melted butter and let rise until double in size. Bake at 425 deg F until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Yields 6 dozen.
Some prefer to brush kolaches with evaporated milk or melted butter when they have cooled down slightly after removal from the oven.
Photos by Czech Heritage Society of Texas, Tex Appeal
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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