Ukrainian Soul Food

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Amy Maczuzak under Food & Place in You Are Here Stories.

***

“Mine look like bananas!” I apologized.

I was assured that, first of all, they did not look like bananas. And even if they did, who would care? Once they’d been boiled, smothered in sautéed onions, and served with a giant dollop of sour cream, they would taste amazing.

“It’s more important that they’re sealed tightly so they won’t break apart when we boil them,” my mother assured me. “The shape doesn’t matter at all!”

It was late December, and Mom, my younger brothers, Aunt Mary, Uncle George, and I were gathered around our newspaper-covered kitchen table. Hands dusted with flour, we had each set up our individual work stations with the proper tools: a square of waxed paper, a communal canister of flour, and a narrow-mouthed cocktail olive jar, which would serve as a mini-rolling pin. When we finished our project, the olive jars would be returned to a corner of the pantry to await next year’s pierogi-making party.

In the center of the table was a wet loaf of sticky sour-creamy dough, from which Mom cut small chunks to distribute to each of our work stations. We sprinkled flour onto our waxed paper and coated our olive jars with the same, and then we rolled the dough into something approximating a circle the size of a flattened tennis ball. We dropped a spoonful of filling—either the mashed potato and cheese concoction or my favorite, the sauerkraut, onion, and cottage cheese mixture—onto one side of the circle. Then we folded the dough over and sealed the filling inside by pressing our thumbs along the edges.

Voila! A perfect pierogi.

Which may or may not resemble a banana.

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