You can only try pahovana piletina in two places. One is Vojvodina, Serbia, where the unique style of fried chicken was born. The other is Ohio, where “Barberton-style fried chicken,” as it’s known there, became one small town’s claim to fame. What started as a comforting meal for an immigrant family came to define a community, turning a humble Ohio town into the “Fried Chicken Capital of the World.”
Smiljka and Manojlo Topalsky weren’t the only Eastern Europeans to leave home for a burgeoning Ohio farm-town called Barberton in the early 1900s. Their grandson, Milos Papich, points out that one of the oldest Serbian social clubs in the country is there, an hour south of Akron. The emigrated family owned a successful 300-acre dairy farm for decades.