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A passion for pierogies. October 10, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. October 8th, I discovered, is National Pierogy [sic] Day, and I had every intention of writing a post about it. Then our friend Ben and I ended up taking a fairly impromptu weekend trip up to scenic Corning, NY, and I got sidetracked and missed my chance to post on the 8th. Rats!!! Should I wait until October 8 next year to post about this? No way, I decided. I may have missed the day itself, but for pierogi lovers, every day is pierogi day, so doggone it, let’s talk pierogies today!

One reason I wanted to go ahead and write a pierogi-themed post was that I myself wanted to find out more about this Polish national food. I’d never even heard of a pierogi before I moved to scenic PA (Pittsburgh, PA is apparently the pierogi capital of the U.S.). To this day, I’ve eaten exactly one pierogi, and that was exactly one more than enough for me. I’ve never understood the desire to pile starch upon starch in the same meal, much less the same dish. Potato-filled pasta like pierogies and gnocchi are mysteries to me, much like serving bread with pasta or toast with home fries or breadsticks with pizza. Enough is enough, people! Can you say “obesity epidemic”?!

However. Our friend Rob is simply addicted to pierogies, so even if I have no interest in eating them, I am curious about them. What gives them their enduring appeal? What’s the most flavorful way to prepare them? And why National Pierogy Day rather than National Pierogi Day?!

Fortunately, Wikipedia had plenty of answers, starting with the word itself. Pierogi is technically the plural, the singular being pierog. In the U.S., Pierogies came to refer to more than one, pierogi to a single half-moon-shaped pasta dough and mashed potato dumpling. In Canada, however, “pierogy” is the preferred spelling for a single dumpling, and oddly enough, this was the spelling adopted by the U.S. for its National Pierogy Day.

Even Mrs. T’s, the premier pierogi-maker in the U.S. (based in scenic Shenandoah, PA), refers to this holiday as National Pierogy Day. Go figure. Fortunately, Wikipedia lists “Pierogi” as its entry heading.

Getting back to Pittsburgh for a minute, let me quote the Wikipedia entry: “Pierogi are also commonly associated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where there is a ‘pierogi race’ at every home Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. In the race, four runners wearing pierogi costumes race toward a finish line.” Baseball. Grown men in ludicrous costumes standing around interminably with big sticks waiting to chase a stupid little ball. Why would anyone play, much less watch? And now pierogi races, grown men dressed as potato dumplings. But I digress. 

Getting back to pierogies and again quoting Wikipedia, “The dough, which is made simply by mixing flour and warm water, is rolled flat and then cut into circles using a cup or drinking glass. The filling is placed in the middle and the dough folded over to form a half circle. The pierogi…are boiled until they float, drained, and sometimes fried or baked in butter before serving. They can be served with melted butter, sour cream, or garnished with small pieces of bacon, onions, and also mushrooms.”

Pierogi fillings have also come a way from plain mashed potatoes, as a look at Mrs. T’s website (www.pierogies.com/) will confirm.  Besides the classic pasta with mashed potato filling, you’ll find potato and Cheddar; potato and onion; potato and 4 cheese blend; sauerkraut;  potato and American cheese; potato, broccoli and Cheddar; potato, sour cream and chive; potato, Cheddar and bacon; potato, Cheddar and jalapeno; potato, spinach and feta; whole grain potato and 5 cheese blend; and whole grain sweet potato. (I’m assuming the “whole grain” refers to the pasta.)

Mrs. T’s website also provides an ample assortment of recipes, from appetizers and snacks to main dishes, casseroles, meatless dishes, sides and salads, and even soups. You’ll find Bacon Wrapped Mini Pierogies, Buffalo Wing Pierogies, Pierogy Pizza, Slow Cooker Pierogy Lasagna, Southwest Chili Pierogies, Pierogy Polish Shepherd’s Pie, Pacific Rim Pierogies, Pesto Pierogies, and much, much more.

I confess, I still can’t see it. But then, I can’t see fried ravioli with marinara sauce as a prelude to a pasta supper (one or the other, please), or gnocchi, period. And yet pierogies, gnocchi, pasta and bread of some kind, even pizza with garlic bread, are all popular options.

So all righty then. If you celebrate National Pierogy Day (or, thank heavens, National Pierogi Day, as I found via Google on numerous websites), or would like to begin an annual tradition, please let me know your favorite way of eating and enjoying pierogies.

             ‘Til next time,




1. diana - October 10, 2011

Diana from pittsburgh here offering more to chew on. Mrs. T doesn’t make them, but another popular variety, at least among the carpatho-russyns, is lekvar: prune filling. Not my favorite, but my friend loves them cooked up with carmelized onion and butter.

Thanks, Diana! Hmmm, if the lekvar pierogies were fried, I could almost see that…

2. pixilated2 - October 12, 2011

Haven’t tried them. Heard the name before, but didn’t know what they were (I actually thought they were some sort of sandwich with sloppy sauce and a sausage or something). Won’t be trying them anytime soon! GACK!

My feeling exactly, Lynda, one was enough for me! But people in this area really love them. It must be one of those things like sauerkraut or sardines or Limberger: If you’ve grown up eating them, you love them, but if not, you just don’t get it.

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