The Traveling Pans Take On Chicago Neighborhoods

by Jenn (eating bender) on June 21, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, the women of The Traveling Pans came together for another fun meal. This time, the theme was Chicago neighborhoods — and the location was Mara’s house!

Didn’t she do an amazing job with the table setup? It was so fun and bright!

My neighborhood of choice was Portage Park, which is primarily Polish (I’m all Polish on Papa Bender’s side of the family). Several of you guessed pierogies as my dish, which was actually my first idea. But after perusing a packet of Korducki family recipes, I decided on placki ziemniaczane, otherwise known as potato pancakes (shout out to Monika)!

As you can see, the ingredients are pretty basic, but nonetheless delicious. :) I arrived at Mara’s house a little ahead of schedule, as she graciously invited me to prepare the pancakes fresh in her kitchen!

They turned out exactly as I hoped! Here’s a visual of the step-by-step in the recipe above.

While I was cooking, Mara made me some delicious watermelon lemonade spiked with limoncello. It was out-of-this-world good, not to mention gorgeous to look at!

Before we knew it, the other “sisters” had arrived and a multicultural dinner was served.

Beth brought Italian meatballs, representing Little Italy.

Mara chose the Little Village neighborhood, which is primarily Puerto Rican. She made tostones, which are a type of fried plantains. They tasted great with a bit of kosher salt on top.

She also supplied us with an amazing dessert, but more on that later. 😉 Next along the line were my potato pancakes! Unfortunately, I forgot the apple sauce and/or sour cream, but they were tasty plain.

Sue represented Pilsen with an amazing bowl of guacamole — I think she said 32 avocados used?! — and tortilla chips, plus another one of our fabulous desserts.

Liz brought a freshly chopped Greek salad and homemade tzatziki with pita a la Greektown.

Mimi made a spicy peanut noodle dish, which was an incredible representation of Chinatown.

And, last but not least for the dinner portion, Tina brought two dishes representing the Vietnamese population in Uptown: shrimp spring rolls and lemongrass burgers.

The burgers were the perfect miniature size and one of my very favorite dishes of the entire evening!

We piled our plates with a little bit of everything.

I think that much yummy food deserves another angle, don’t you?

Everything was truly perfect. So many different flavors coming together for this meal! And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Mara provided us with a coconut-brown-sugar rice pudding. You can find the recipe here.

Sue brought authentic Mexican pastries from the Pilsen neighborhood.

And Amy brought rogaliki, a nut- and sugar-filled cookie representing the Ukranian Village.

I, of course, had some of each! They were all wonderful in different ways. A perfectly sweet way to end what had already been an enjoyable eating of food and conversation.

I continue to be grateful that these impressive and intelligent women include me in their sisterhood! I love getting to know them better every time and hearing all of their fantastic stories.

Can’t wait for the next event! You can also read Mara’s fantastic recap here.

Mmm…now I’m hungry! Do you have a favorite “neighborhood” or cuisine in your city?


1 Melissa @missmelissblurbs June 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

what a cool idea!!! i loved this! everything looked delicious

2 Erica June 22, 2011 at 3:41 am

oh my drool! All of the food looks out of this world. LOVE that you made potato pancakes (so good). That, the tostones and the rice pudding ….just plain droool! My favorite neighborhood always seems to be little Italy. Hope you’re having a good week

3 Kristie June 22, 2011 at 5:47 am

Oh my goodness! Everything looks so amazing! What an awesome idea for a dinner too :).

4 lpodolsky410 June 22, 2011 at 5:53 am

I think I would give my first child to be in this sisterhood! :)

5 brandi June 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

all the food looks incredible! it’s so fun that you guys do these get togethers :)

6 Jill Felska June 22, 2011 at 9:18 am

Love that you guys have created this group! The food looks incredible and I’m sure the conversation was just as delicious! :)

7 Carey @ Positively Blonde June 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

Omg, what a fun idea! I love having those shmorgus board type of meals, plus the food looks great!!

8 Megan (Braise The Roof) June 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

Yum, what a great potluck! You know I would’ve picked Andersonville and brought something Swedish since I got all that Scandinavian blood in me. :) I REALLY need to get on that happy hour/potluck idea!

9 May - So Very Domestic June 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I love this idea, so sweet and fun! All of the food looks amazing. I fear how much I would eat if that was in front of me!

10 eat healthy. be happy. live well. June 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm

That all looks awesome! The group sounds amazing! I totally would have brought dessert, it’s my favorite part of any meal :)

11 broccolihut June 22, 2011 at 8:16 pm

SO much beautiful food! Watermelon lemonade sounds perfectly refreshing right now.

12 Brittany June 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

What a fun idea! All the food looks amazing and I’m sure you ladies had a great time catching up. I love that you made potato pancakes. They remind me of latkes, which definitely make me smile. :)

13 Monique June 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

What a gorgeous meal! This is so beautiful :) I am really going to have to make that lemonade btw…. amazing!

14 Shannon June 25, 2011 at 7:38 am

i’m half polish, too! Except it’s from mom’s side, dad’s italian 😉 What an amazing spread of food, I would’ve needed an extra stomach!

15 Jenn (eating bender) June 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Hurray for the Poles! :) I definitely could have used a little extra stomach room!

16 khaughney June 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm

What a fun idea! Love this. Might have to convince my friends to do something similar.

17 Jenn (eating bender) June 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm

You definitely should. It’s so much fun!

18 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions July 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

Do I spy Nuevo Leon pastries?? Definitely one of my favorite places in all of Chicago. Delicious, easily accessible, huge selection and portion sizes, insanely cheap, and the best tortillas I’ve ever had: seriously, what more could you ask for?

Also, I’m obsessed with rogaliki. Where I had them it was spelled rugelach, but by your description/photo I’m assuming they’re the same thing. So so so good.

19 Kate @ FittingintotheWindyCity September 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

old style from wrigleyville perhaps?

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