I know nil about Polish food. So I was both excited and a little nervous to join my friend Lynn (whose ethnic background is Polish) at an all you can eat pierogi fest at Seattle’s Polish Home.
Pierogi are half-moon dumplings that are boiled and then sauteed in a pan with butter and onion. They contain sweet or savory fillings and are commonly eaten with a healthy dollop of sour cream.
The first pierogi I sampled were farmer’s cheese with potato and a variety simply labelled “MEAT.” I was unfamiliar with farmer’s cheese, which is made by pressing most of the moisture out of cottage cheese. It reminded me of ricotta, and when combined with mashed potato inside a pierogi, it was absolutely light and delicious.
I asked Lynn if she knew what kind of meat was in the MEAT pierogi. She had no idea but thought that maybe it was a combination of chicken and beef. When I cut one open and peered inside, the filling resembled canned tuna fish more than anything else. It looked flaky and stringy. Since I grew up in a household where potted meat is a major food group, I had no qualms about sampling the pierogi. However, eating the MEAT didn’t give me any other clues about what I was actually consuming. I would not be having seconds.
The next pierogi I tried were ones with sauerkraut and mushroom filling. I’m usally not a sauerkraut fan, but I loved this combination. I thought the kraut would have a strong vinegar taste, but it was sweet and mild.
I waited in the very long pierogi line twice, and each time they were completely out of the sweet pierogi. There were two flavors, blueberry and plum. The blueberry pierogi were especially popular. One little boy patiently stood in front of the empty blueberry pan for close to half an hour, waiting for a fresh batch. My friend Roxanne finally snagged me one, and it was worth the wait. I pierced it and watched the warm blueberry filing mingle with the dollop of sweet sour cream I had put on top of the pierogi. Yum.
It was refreshing to sample a food without any preconceptions about it. And I was lucky that the first pierogi I ever tried were fresh and handmade by home cooks. I’m Filipino American and used to being quizzed about my food and culture. This time I got to do the asking. Lynn and I talked about the origin of “Polock” jokes, Hitler’s extermination of Polish Jews and Catholics, how to make pierogi dough and much more. I enjoyed being exposed to Polish people and culture in such a unique food setting. I could definitely go back for more.