Bohemian refers to a region of Czechoslovakia. The word bohemian is also associated with gypsies and their peasant way of life.
My grandmother, Johanna Nikl, came to the United States from Graz, Burgenland, Austria in 1934. Her aunt lived in the Mott Havens section of the Bronx and so she too lived in the area. She had many friends from different parts of Eastern Europe. They represented Austria but Germany, Hungary, and Romania as well. They all had a collection of delicious and special cookie recipes. They wanted their cultures to be spread so that other cultures enjoy their culinary delights.
The name “Bohemian Nut Slices” is very fitting for these cookies. Peasants or bohemians were able to find the ingredients for these cookies quite easily. They only require flour, butter, eggs, nuts, yeast, salt, and sugar. My grandmother liked to make them when her friends came over. When my mom started to make them they became an essential part for the holidays. She would spread meringue on the dough and sprinkle ground nuts over it. She would begin to roll the dough into a cylinder shape. The nuts and meringue were found in every layer. It was important to make a slit in the dough lengthwise, from end to end. Magically, the dough opened up revealing the meringue and nuts. My neighbors are Italian and they like these cookies so much that we made them for a birthday present. I’m sure this cookie recipe has a long life span.
– Katherine Adikimenakis