In preparation for the Easter celebration this week, I’ve put together a photo essay that features an area of Philadelphia that few people know about. Port Richmond is about 30 minutes by car from Villanova University, an easy distance for students who want a little adventure. It’s a completely walk-able section of the city filled with thriving local businesses.
As a primarily Polish neighborhood, there are several beautiful Catholic churches within a small radius, and lots of Polish markets that carry imported packaged foods as well as Polish goods made on the premises.
As my daughter, Jen Cywinski (’10 CLAS), and I strolled around this section of Philly, we had one very specific purpose in mind: to procure kielbasa and pierogis for our Easter feast. If, in the process, we stumbled across culinary offerings at other fine establishments, so much the better.
Our first stop was Czerw’s Kielbasy on Tilton Street. We could smell the firewood burning and the tantalizing aroma of smoked meat while we stood in line with other die hard customers. Our bags were filled with the Czerw’s famous homemade kielbasa, pierogis, “dilly” dill pickles and babka. They also gave us free samples of sausage sticks to eat on the way home.
After a long wait out in the cold we decided that breakfast at a local diner would be needed to fuel the rest of our visit to Port Richmond. Seeing some of the local police force and the Zagat ratings on the wall of the Mercer Café convinced us the food would be good.
Our next stop was the Krakus Market on Richmond Street. Their shelves were packed with authentic imported Polish products and the refrigerator cases contained homemade desserts and pierogis, as well as deli meats and cheeses. They also had Polish language greeting cards and other non-food gift items. The cashiers spoke Polish and English fluently, switching from one to the other depending on the customer. (And I’m pretty sure I spied a Villanova graduate student in the store.)
On the way back to our parking spot we stopped at St. Adalbert’s Roman Catholic Church on Allegheny Avenue and stepped inside to behold the beautiful altar. Attached to the church is Our Lady of Port Richmond, a regional Catholic school that serves the combined communities of St. Adalbert’s, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lady Help of Christians. All three are within a 6 block radius.
In the space of a few hours, we covered a good bit of the Port Richmond section and may have to go back later this week to restock. The kielbasa, pierogis and babka we purchased might not survive until next weekend and the eggs, dyed the old fashioned way in red & yellow onion skins, beets, turmeric, and tea, are destined to become egg salad.
To read more about Easter in Poland and around the world, follow the links below to articles found in library databases. Or contact a librarian for help using the databases and other library resources.
It wouldn’t be Easter in Buffalo without Butter Lambs (written by a retired librarian!)
Happy Easter, everyone!
Food blog by Luisa Cywinski, writer for Communications & Service Promotion and team leader of Access Services.
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