Czech Heritage Dinner is ‘a visiting time’

I have a rule.

Maybe not so much a rule as an attempt to stretch my culinary imagination.

Whenever I’m on a road trip, I want to eat any place I can’t eat at home, if at all possible. Usually it’s possible.

In Superior, Wis., there’s a place called Gronk’s Grill and Bar. We hit it on a Friday night, so I, of course, had to have the fish fry, and I don’t even like fish that well. In Wisconsin on a Friday night, though, a fish fry is almost mandatory, and the fish in Wisconsin always tastes good.

Well, I did choose cod and not catfish, so that could be the reason it was good.

Still, it’s not Gronk’s fish fry that puts them on the map.

Oh, no, it’s not the fish fry. It’s the Enger Tower Burger, a stack of six burgers with the works. If you can eat it in two hours, you win a T-shirt. Of course, you can’t leave the table and if you make a mess, you clean it up. We’re not talking crumbs here.

Funny how food gives you something to think and talk about.

That’s especially true with ethnic groups and the perpetuation of their heritage with annual banquets, even if they’re not called banquets.

For instance, the 34th annual Czech Heritage Dinner is coming up, with the traditional roast pork and dumplings being served. There’s also dilled green beans, sauerkraut, rye bread, applesauce, dill pickles and kolace. That’s Czech pastry, and reason in itself for getting a ticket for the dinner.

Ticket information is available from Dee Busse at 570-8007 and at Tea Thyme at 2201 Sixth Ave. S.

The dinner will be at Corpus Christi Parish Center on North Eighth Street on Nov. 16. That’s a Saturday night, a good night to eat out.

I’m telling you all this, but there’s always the possibility the tickets are gone, so if that’s the case, I apologize for getting your hopes up.

Jim Ertl has prepared this dinner meal for all but one of the previous 33 years, and this year will help Deb Lacina of Tea Thyme. He’s just not feeling up to being in charge.

A social hour with coffee and punch starts at 5 p.m., and for those who prefer wine or beer, there will be a cash bar available. The dinner starts at 6 p.m.

Sandy Blattner, of Hastings, Minn., will be guest speaker.

The first Czech Heritage Dinner was held Nov. 15, 1980, at the Colonial Inn. It’s been a popular night out ever since.

Irene Porter, of Fort Dodge, makes it a point to be at the dinner. “All these Bohemian people cling together,” she once told me. “And they love that dinner. It’s a visiting time.”

The Czech-Slovak Republic Heritage Association is one of those rare groups with members in a wide age range. There’s a reason for this, you understand.

When somebody like Irene makes kolace, and she makes a great kolace, her children and grandchildren learn to love it, so the heritage is self-perpetuating.

Tasty, too.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at