Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pierogi History

Perogi, pyrogy, pierógi, perogie, pierogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy, pyrohy...doesn't matter how you spell it or what Eastern European background you come from, these yummy dough dumplings are always stuffed with a family favorite.

For me, pierogi are part of my family's Polish background and traditions. Canada has a large Polish population, and an even larger Ukrainian population, so pierogi are very common. Polish pierogi were historically a peasant food, but have become a food for all classes and now play an important role in Polish culture. They are boiled and served in a variety of forms and tastes ranging from sweet to salty to spicy, often filled with cheese (curd, cottage cheese, cheddar), potatoes, fried onions, ground meat, mushrooms and cabbage/sauerkraut, or for dessert an assortment of fruits including various berries, with either strawberries or blueberries being most common. It almost goes without saying that they are served with plenty of sour cream, and topped with fried bacon or onions. Poles traditionally serve pierogi for the traditional Polish twelve course, meatless meal on Christmas Eve called Wigilia.

So where do pierogi come from? Well they have been hard to trace back, and claims have been staked by the Poles, Romanians, Russians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Slovaks and Rusyns. However, I have found several articles pointing out that the origin is actually China and that pierogi arrived in Poland two ways: 1) Won tons and rice-skin dumplings where brought by invading Mongolians to Russia, fillings adapted to local ingredients, then made way into Poland. 2) Pasta was brought from China to Italy by Marco Polo, then in the form of ravioli and tortellini made its way into Poland.

The name pierogi, and its many versions, in most languages holds the meaning of "pie", which can take the form of a stuffed dumpling, pastry, or two-crusted pie. Oh yeah.. and something else I learned, pierogi is the plural form; pierog is singular...but since when does anyone just eat one peirog??

OK, I'm really hungry now...

4 comments:

  1. im here for info on my SPANISH project, yup

    ReplyDelete
  2. Betcha can't eat just one! My grandmother learned to make these from her mother-in-law who was Czechoslovakian and was married to a Polish man. Hers were always potato and cheese - she used Colby longhorn. My mom learned from her but doesn't make them often. These are my favorite dish and I think I may attempt to make them myself this holiday season.

    ReplyDelete