Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Foods

Usually at Christmastime I make a big batch of tamales and we have them for every meal. As kids, my family ate tea and tamales for breakfast and it was a great treat. But this year we decided to make something equally as time consuming and close to the same delicious experience. Pierogies.
We have no family tradition of pierogies, but years ago between husbands, I worked as a waitress in a tiny Polish restaurant. I learned all about a new set of great dishes, and really loved the possibilities inherent in these dumplings.
They can be filled with potatoes, sauerkraut, pork and onion, or cheese. I suppose they can even be filled with something fruity like plums or cherries, but I have never done those....until maybe this year.
I believe the attraction may be the bacon and sour cream toppings, but that is getting ahead of the story.
At this restaurant, named Europa, the staff was a set of Poles who had some English and lots of great cooking abilities, altho I am sure they had other professions before coming to the US. We all had lonliness in common, so making the best of the holidays meant cooking and serving the patrons with gusto.
One lady was employed to just make pierogis all day. I watched her roll out the dough, cut them in circles, add filling and then close and pinch each filled pocket. It took a long time to make them all for the nighttime crowds.
They were boiled and set aside to cool and per order they were fried in butter or bacon drippings and served with sour cream, or applesauce or both or my favorite, mushroom cream sauce. Nothing like calories were even considered.
The majority of our diners were single (or pretending to be) men who worked here and sent their families money back in Poland. They spoke very little English, but managed to flirt like mad anyway. Lots of vodka and Polish beer was consumed, and the resulting mood lightened immeasurably.

On Christmas Eve I got done serving at about 1am but the raucus party continued. I went downstairs and fell asleep on the cot in the restaurant basement. Later one of my customers drove me home and stayed the night. Imagine my surprise to wake up and find him next to me in my bed! What a Christmas memory, eh? The things we do when we are young and stupid.
Anyway...for some reason I had forgotten that event until just now, and it really has nothing to do with why I love Pierogis. Honest.
I mean really.


  1. What a coincidence I have just finished making pieorgi ready for the weekend when I saw them on your blog!
    Have a brilliant Christmas- Wesołych Świąt i szczęśliwego Nowego Roku
    Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year

  2. lol!

    I've never tried my hand at making them, but I do love them with a great and passionate love. (Perhaps not as passionate as yours.)


  3. We had pierogies for dinner last night. Never made them from scratch before. Will have to try that. MMMMM good eating there!

  4. It seems we are both Polish by proximity. Close proximity.
    Have a wonderful Christmas!

  5. A big lol at the end! I'm so happy you blog and tell these crazy stories we can all relate to! I bought some frozen pierogies about a month ago and had no idea what to do with them so boiled them and covered them with something. Now I'll boil them, then fry them! Sounds so much better.

  6. Tamales? Pierogies? Both!! Love, love. But I have never made either from scratch. Heck, living in TX, it was too easy to find really good tamales everywhere. I'm hungry.

  7. Anonymous12:44 PM

    please share the recipe!!! I miss my grandmother's cooking. Would you like a source for great holiday kielbasa made with the old world recipe-- made only at Christmas and Easter time?
    Joan in Missouri

  8. You are making me hungry!

  9. I love pierogi too - and I'm sure I would love them more with stories like yours!

    Potatoes and cheese - those are my favorites! Yours look yummy, Melody!

    Joan, in South Bend, IN during the Easter season you can get Dyngus Day sausage, which maybe similar to what you're thinking of. It's sort of a spicy kielbasa - even the chain groceries sell it because EVERYONE eats it during lent. Dyngus Day, from what I can tell, is the (South Bend) Polish equivalent of Mardi Gras - all the politicos go to the bars and press the flesh with the citizenry.

  10. Great story - they look yummy - and isn't it strange where memory leads us when it wanders. Enjoy all those tasty treats!

  11. You crack me up! I like how you are jumpstarting a new tradition from an old memory.

  12. hahaha! Love the story! Yes, I think we've all done crazy things in our youth. Thanks for the laugh today.

  13. Yum! But you didn't tell how to make them, or a recipe.... Maybe next week?
    Merry Christmas to you and all of yours!

  14. I, too, was making pierogi at my MIL's home this year for the umpteenth time. A great extended family activity - and they disappear almost as quickly as we make them. A ton of work, a ton of fun with loved ones, and yummy to boot! I must boast that while making them once a month while growing up, my dh learned to make EXCELLENT pierogi - a very light, tender pasta filled with the yummiest potato/cheese/onion mixture. His mom is known for her pierogi and has passed down the skills to her kids - and now my husband has taught our daughter too. I must say that as you weren't raised with pierogi I am very impressed that y ou tackled them.

    Thanks for the memories! :)

  15. Hi Melody ,

    Pierogi polskie sa bardzo smaczne !
    Urodzilam sie w Polsce , u nas sa rozne pyszne Pierogi , o roznym nadzieniu.
    Polskie piwo tez jest dobre, ja nie pije ale moi znajomi lubia to piwo zywieckie.
    Zycze smacznego ,
    Happy New Year 2012 ,
    Best wishes,:)))


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