Easter feast from diverse Chicago market

April 4, 2012 9:39:31 AM PDT
In the Old Country, whole animals were roasted over spits for Easter. City Fresh Market on the city's Northwest Side keeps the tradition alive in Chicago.

Buyers find plenty of roasted meat -- along with more cheeses, breads and eggs than they'll ever need -- at an ethnically diverse market, located at the nexus of West Rogers Park, Pulaski Park and Lincolnwood.

Animals.. bread.. wine. Hallmarks of the traditional Easter table, for sure, but just a fraction of the ethnic items sold at the City Fresh Market in West Rogers Park, at the northern tip of the city.

"We primarily cater fifty percent to the Eastern European community. The other fifty, a large portion of our business is the Jewish community. Because we are in the 50th Ward which is a very diverse neighborhood here," said Dragan Kovacevic, the owner of City Fresh Market.

So diverse, in fact, that when Easter rolls around, they must satisfy customers cooking for both this Sunday, as well as the Orthodox Easter on the 15th. A big part of that means roasting whole animals.

"Well our specialty for Easter, we do a roasted lamb. Which is roasted on a spit over a wood charcoal fire, for about three-and-a-half hours. That's one of our specialty," Kovacevic said.

They'll also spit-roast entire pigs, if you wish. But there is clearly more here than just protein. Eastern European sarma, or stuffed cabbage, plus imported cheeses and pickled salads. Red eggs for symbolic Orthodox Easter tables are always present this time of year.. as are the multicultural - but mostly European - sweets: Hungarian dobos torte, German strudel and lots of cake.

But the beef, lamb and pork seem to get the most attention here; and it doesn't matter if they're raw, dried, cured or cooked.

"We carry fresh baby lamb, baby goat. So if some people they want to buy fresh meat will serve the fresh meat or will cook it for them," he said.

Best to order ahead if you plan on feeding a small army. But this week you should have no problem finding what you need.

City Fresh Market
3201 W. Devon Ave.
(773) 681-8600