Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Seven Years of Food Posts


Last week’s post on slumgullion was popular. Perhaps your favorite activity was to post what they called it in your house. Goulash was the winner. Others called it American chop suey, beefaroni, and Johnny Marzetti. Then there were the more creative names: “goop,” pasta fazool, chili mac, macaroni and meat, “slop,” casserole, “Beefy barfaroni” (my favorite), “glum,” “slum,” Johnzetta, “slumgush,” “garbage,” and wishbone special. One thing I’ve learned about these things is that there is no point in insisting on the “right” name. It is whatever you called it at your house!

Food posts have been among the most popular of the posts in this series. I thought it might be fun to go back over seven years and revisit some of my favorites — and yours. Here they are from earliest to the present. If your mouth is not watering when I’m done, I question whether you are really from Youngstown!

Food. This whole series began with this post on May 10, 2014. I had been blogging less than a year. I’d written one previous post about Youngstown that was so-so. I thought I would try one more. It was a general post celebrating all the good food in Youngstown. In a couple days, over 10,000 people viewed it–something I had not had occur before. It was shared in some Youngstown Facebook groups and went viral. It persuaded me to keep writing about Youngstown and especially about food. So from time to time, I’ve written about the dishes we grew up with. [The link to Recipes of Youngstown that appears here is expired. There is a working link at the end of this article.]

Canfield Fair Food. Did you eat and drink your way through the fair? We sure did. I remembered some of our favorite foods from DiRusso’s to Strouss’ Malts to Parker’s Ice Cream.

Christmas Baking. I remember some of the things we baked during the Christmas holidays and include a scrumptious picture of pizzelles, a family favorite.

Pierogies. Many of us had them every Friday, especially during Lent, and some of our moms worked at the church pierogie sales.

Kolachi. Another one of those holiday favorites. This page gets lots of visits every Christmas and Easter. I also discovered that what we call kolachi is call “nut roll” elsewhere, and kolachi is something very different.

The Cookie Table. Only Youngstown and Pittsburgh residents know what cookie tables are and there is an ongoing dispute over who was first. I arm wrestled a Pittsburgh colleague to settle this at a Youngstown wedding. Needless to say, Youngstown won! This has been the most viewed post on my blog.

Wedding Soup. I always love returning to Youngstown to get good wedding soup. And I discovered that the “wedding” doesn’t refer to the marriage of two people but rather of greens and meat.

Haluski. Like slumgullion, this is a favorite Youngstown comfort food–a few simple ingredients with lots of variations, and a satisfied tummy at the end.

Brier Hill Pizza. This is a Youngstown original. I go into the origins of Brier Hill pizza and include some videos from St. Anthony’s Church in Brier Hill.

Tomatoes. We were a city of gardens, and we grew all kinds of tomatoes and had all kinds of ways to use them. I still grow ’em!

Elephant Ears. One of my favorite foods at the fair are elephant ears. Buy one, stroll, snack, and share, and lick the cinnamon and sugar off your fingers! I even include a video showing how to make them!

Spinning Bowl Salads. In college, we loved to go up to the 20th Century for spinning bowl salads. After posting this article, Morris Levy, one of the owners of the 20th Century, sent me a recipe, which I added to the post. Make your own!

Chicken Paprikash. This is one we owe to the Hungarian residents of the city. There is a fun video, “Cooking with Oma,” that you have to watch!

Italian Food. I write about how hard it is to find good Italian food when you are away from Youngstown, the great sauces, and all the good places to get Italian food, especially mom’s or grandmama’s kitchen.

Fried Baloney Sandwiches. My dad used to make these–the poor man’s steak. There is a backstory on this post. Facebook blocked it and kicked me off for a day because its automated censor thought my original image of frying baloney was something else. Needless to say, I changed the image!

Slumgullion. Posted just last week as I mentioned, but already highly viewed. Another one of those easily made, inexpensive comfort foods.

Some of the links in these posts no longer are live, a big problem with the internet. One of the continuing sources of information and recipes about the foods of Youngstown is the Recipes of Youngstown series. Over the years, the location where you can buy these has changed. Now Recipes of Youngstown has its own website and the cookbooks may be purchased online and in-person through the Youngstown Clothing Co. We have all three and they are great! [Update: the cookbooks are out of print and currently unavailable at either the website or this location. ]

Well, that was fun! Food never tasted so good as it did in Youngstown. It wasn’t gourmet, it was just good. I’m glad people are keeping that alive. Hopefully this post, and those linked to it will help do that as well. And I’d love to hear about other dishes I may have forgotten.

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Seven Years of Food Posts

  1. I miss Youngstown food!!!! Church lady pierogi’s!! Kolachi!!(here what they call Kolachi look like a Danish??). I can fix most myself but those two never come out to suit me.


  2. Love this post! Youngstown will always be in my heart as “home” no matter where life may take me.

    Good memories attached to all the foods you mentioned. Another one just popped in my head…chip chopped ham fried with bbq sauce. Yum:-)

    Take care!


  3. Love reading your articles. Always brings back fond memories of growing up in Youngstown . I always learn interesting history about Youngstown when reading your stories. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh my, this sounds like my food life in Youngstown.
    My family still makes Kolachi, every Thanksgiving, the holiday baking. both of my daughters learned to make it.

    Cornersburg pizza. Can’t find a good one here in Columbus. Have to go to Y-town to get a good one. Talk about melting pot. Y-town surely was one. And, we all got along.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Your Favorites of 2021 | Bob on Books

  6. We’ve lived in Texas for 45 years and still haven’t found pizza that is as good as any you get in Youngstown. But we do now have Handel’s ice cream!


  7. Oh, how I remember the foods I grew up with. (1942-60) I had a girlfriend whose mother did the best Christmas cookies. There was a small pizza shop on Hillman St somewhere around Judson, Ravenwood area. Great pizza, great owners. Since 1960 I was in the Air Force for 27 years traveled the world, but always compared the food I grew up on to whatever I was eating at the time. Great stories I enjoy reading and remembering way off in our Texas home. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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