First the background: Since I now live in Oak Park, Illinois, I frequently find myself driving across Chicago's west side, the former domain of my parents and thousands of other jews. Every question of "what was that building" brings waves of nostalgia from my parents. Of course, this jibes nicely with my fascination towards old places in general
The initial presentation: Recently, there was much discussion of a lamented jewish (rumanian) style steakhouse. Beside the great grilled skirt steaks, my parents over-riding memory was of big bottles of "red pop" on the tables as the house drink. (Some enjoy a nice cab with their steaks, others a nice red pop...)
The observation: Yesterday, after months of false starts, I finally made it to Chicago's last remaining schvitz with a friend of mine. No trip to the schvitz would be complete without a bit of post heat nosh. Through the haze of cigar smoke, I noticed that big (and little) bottles of strawberry crush sat on many tables.
The seconding: My friend, who was in midst of his own nostalgia, having gone schvitzing in his youth with his grandpa, started talking about the resturant in the bathhouse they visited (a different place on the north side of chicago). He mentioned they always drank strawberry pop!
The question: So, what is it with strawberry/red pop and this kind of place? Can you all see the invisible connection between these bathhouses and the old time rumanian steakhouse? The drink was surely not the only thing that united them. But why the drink. Is there some unknown eastern european connection to strawberry drinks?
Happy New Year to All!
Division Streee Russian-Turkish Bath House
1916 West Division
Chicago, Illinois 60622