The Suitcase Lady


May 24, 2016, 9:56 pm

Every neighborhood once had a family owned bakery, and these wonderful shops each had a distinct ethnic flavor.

Many years ago, an acquaintance of mine started a tour business featuring these family run bakeries.  Italian, Greek, Polish, Mexican and German bakeries were visited with samples provided at each. The tours were wildly popular, but the business failed. The tourists literally gobbled up all the profits.

My childhood neighborhood bakery was named Pornats, and lines snaked out the door after church services on Sunday morning. My father was always in the line, and his order was always similar:

  • 1 large cream filled coffee cake with streusel, or
  • 1 large potica (a Slovenian nut filled pastry), or
  • 1 dozen assorted shnecks (sweet rolls)

To these treats was added the pie that followed Sunday night dinner. My father rotated between coconut cream and banana cream.

After I married, my husband and I started or own bakery tradition. We would drive to Chicago on a Saturday and bakery hop down Cicero Road. In those days Czech bakeries dotted every block for almost a mile. We would fill the back seat with breads and the Czech specialty, kolaches. Today, those same bakeries have changed into Panaderias offering delicious Mexican specialties.


We recently decided to revive the Chicago bakery tradition and headed to Andersonville. This Chicago neighborhood is bustling and its Swedish origins are clearly evident….it is hard to miss a Dala Horse as big as a real pony standing on the sidewalk.

We took a number at the local bakery and had plenty of time to ponder the offerings as we waited in line. The cardamon coffee cakes won out. This choice proved to be excellent especially when topped with lingonberry jam and butter.

My cousin does not have to bakery hop. She lives in Racine, Wisconsin, in a part of town that has always been known affectionately as “Kringleville”. One guess why.


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