You say Pierogie and I say Perogy

Gluten Free? Why not, I guess

It must be said, and that by me (for my extensive blogging staff appears to have gotten into the sherry and is AWOL) that I am indeed making the very most that can be made of my missing gallbladder and subsequent license to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, regardless of how fatty it is. After months where bacon was an abstract concept and cheese a mere hypothetical, the luscious richness that fat brings to, say, Saint Andre Brie is a revelation.

Now, there are two ways to do this, to dive back into a diet that suddenly includes fat.

  1. The high-fashion route, ie lardons. As in Goop and other pretentious monstrosities such as the Pork Martini. Yes, the Pork Martini: The pork Martini serves many needs on many levels! In these pomo days, when old formulas are reborn with futile twists for our fickle, fin-de-siècle tastes, the meat cocktail stands out above wobbly, cranberry-tainted attempts at bar trendiness. When one abandons the olive garnish for that of a pork-rind wedge, the pork Martini merges the flavors of the working class with that of wealthier ones, bridging social strata. It has the humanitarian goal of bettering the nutrition of alcoholics, offering protein for those who prefer their lunches liquid: since meat digests longer, it will both inebriate and offer nutrients for longer periods! It will open new markets to pork consumption, adding American jobs to every level of the meat-industrial complex. And, finally, it looks really weird. To which one can only reply: Oh honey. Oh honey. Oh honey, shut up and get me another Bombay Sapphire 6:1 with a twist.
  2. The low-rent, diner route. This, my friends, is the route I have chosen (and does it surprise any of you?). The food and the company are both better, and my wallet still respects me in the morning. And in this marvelous, Bukowskian noshquest, I believe I may have found the ultimate food.

Winnipeg Style Perogies.

perogy cat knows when you're cheating on him with gnocchi

perogy cat knows when you're cheating on him with gnocchi

Although there hasn’t been a food invented that can’t be ruined by snobbery (yes, it’s been done with truffle oil; hasn’t everything?), the humble perogy is as pure a peasant food as the world contains, and if there’s one thing the peasants know, it’s that it doesn’t pay to be doctrinaire. When you have three things in the kitchen and you’re bored of them separately, you put them together and call it “Casserole” or whatever the local word is (there’s a restaurant in Portland whose best-seller is called “slop” but we do not recommend this for marketing purposes) and you just eat it.

A Shmenge's favorite food

A Shmenge's favorite food

Perogies are the perfect example of this: their infinitely adaptable, humble nature has spawned some amazing displays of loyalty, whether it’s John Candy diverting his flights to pick some up or inspiring spirited musicals.

A plateful of potato-stuffed dumplings served up with catchy tunes and a bit of humour is heating up into a favourite menu item for Ukrainian Catholics and other Catholic churches across the country.

The Perogy Supper Miracle, the hour-long musical comedy about a church fundraising supper written by Winnipeg musician and composer Danny Schur, is about to tantalize and entice audiences in Sudbury, Burlington, Ottawa, Calgary and Prince Albert in the next months…

Schur says he’s surprised and pleased that The Perogy Supper Miracle has attracted enquiries from churches all over North America since its Winnipeg premiere on Nov. 6…

“I’m pleased about The Perogy Supper Miracle because it’s a chance to do creative fundraising and creative ministry and it’s a good musical,’ says Gnutel, who portrays a priest named Father Mark experiencing a doubts and questions about his work while attempting to recruit enough volunteers to keep his parish’s perogy dinners operating.

Boston Pizza even, apparently, has a perogy pizza; that they serve this in Boston, well, colour me skeptical.

The lineup outside Baba's Perogy Hut could be extensive

The lineup outside Baba's Perogy Pizza Hut could be extensive

I grew up partly in Winnipeg, flying from Paris to Winterpeg at the age of 11 months (and I’m STILL not over the culture shock: Oscar Wilde got off the train and said, “SO this is Winnipeg. I can tell it’s not Paris” and every visitor since has said much the same) and fondly remember the one weekend every Fall when our Ukrainian friend Frida would come over and draft the population of the entire block, turning us into one huge perogy and cabbage roll factory, after which we would have enough to eat until the Communists came marching over the North Pole as they were surely going to do any day now. I remember eating them with everything, including ketchup, but distinctly do not remember eating them in the style known in Vancouver’s iconic Hamburger Mary’s diner as Winnipeg Style Perogies.

A lb of food! Cheese perogies topped with house made beef chili and broiled cheese with sour cream.

And here they are:

Winnipeg Style Perogies in all their cholesteriffic glory

Winnipeg Style Perogies by 604FoodPhotography,in all their cholesteriffic glory

Is this authentic? I SHOULD SAY NOT!

It should be “0.45359237 kilograms of food,” duh!

But what I can tell you is this: if you’re near starvation, after nearly three solid month of fat-free dining, it is about as close as the planet comes to the perfect restorative. Sure, the serving was the size of my head, and sure, there was too much cumin, even for me, but it was, nonetheless, a plate of ecstasy.

The kind you feel dirty about afterwards, which only makes it better.

12 Responses to “You say Pierogie and I say Perogy”

  1. penguinlady February 16, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I didn’t think anything about the differences between US and Canadian cuisine until the hubs and I went to a baseball game up here and had pierogies instead of hot dogs with our beer. Pretty sure I can get them at a hockey game, too. The best ones I’ve had come from our local farmer’s market, from a stall called “Two Babas and a Stove”, and those ladies make the best pierogies, piroshkis and golabki I’ve ever had!

  2. raincoaster February 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    I always get the perogies and cabbage rolls at Granville Island, when everyone else gets the overpriced salmon burgers. It’s Never Fail food.

  3. raincoaster February 16, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    But it must be admitted, now that I think of it, that Americans have better hot dogs.

  4. aurumgirl February 17, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Hot dogs, blah blah blah. I get mine from the local Mennonite butcher, as we’re blessed with many of them here in Ontario. Their hot dogs kick all of America out of the park. And to go one better, skip the hot dogs and go for the German sausage, have them with sauerkraut and onions on a bun. Or limit your intake of perogy to about 4 or 5 and have the sausage on the side.

    I’ve never understood why people classify perogy with gnocchi–different animals all around. Perogy = ravioli/agnelotti/capellaci/regionally-appropriate-name-here. Just sayin’.

    I hope you are enjoying your return to great food, now that all physical restrictions have been removed.

  5. raincoaster February 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Shaped, mashed potato product = shaped, mashed potato product. “Pasta” is wheat-based. Totally different texture, even if it is starch all around. Ravioli is NOT Italian perogies, even though they are stuffed. Gnocchi are Italian perogies, even though they are not.

    It’s related to why Ciroc is not real vodka, but Zubrovka IS.

    And yes, I am very much enjoying it. I get about two weeks where whatever I eat doesn’t stick to me, but after that I have to go back to a properly balanced diet and not cheese three times a day.

  6. aurumgirl February 19, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Ah, but cheese is so tasty, especially when washed down with something cleansing and brisk, with a “proof”. I’m glad you’re in the “exploration” stage of nutritional recuperation now.

    About gnocchi, I respectfully disagree. In some gnocchi recipes, potatoes do make up a part of gnocchi–but most of it is still semolina, corn, rice, chestnut, or spelt flour (depending on the region the recipe comes from). Many gnocchi recipes don’t include potatoes at all. When ricotta cheese is added to the mix (and these gnocchi recipes are typically the kind that do not contain potatoes), the gnocchi are then called “nudi” or “Nudes”–they aren’t pasta “filled” with the cheese, so the cheese ingredient is “nude”.

    In the Emilia Romagna region, they make a food called a “gnoccho”–very different from “gnocchi” as it is made in other regions. “Gnoccho” is basically a wheat pasta (like the pierogy) stuffed with fresh, sweet raw milk cheese–more like a sweeter cream cheese version of a ricotta. It’s deep fried and served before the meal starts–and you usually just get one. But that Gnoccho is far closer to your pierogy/vareniki food than “gnocchi” will ever be.

    Pierogy are pasta stuffed with potatoes (and usually lots of other things too–meat, cheeses, sauerkraut, sauerkraut and sausage, preserved fruits, the varieties are endless). The dough is the same semolina durham wheat that Italy legislates to be the only wheat used in a food that purports to call itself “pasta”
    used in things like ravioli, capellacci, tortellini, agnolotti, etc.

    (Sorry, but not only was this drilled into my head every Sunday of my childhood-to-adolescent years, when the gnocchi I made consisted of 1 or 2 medium boiled potatoes, mashed, then combined with flour (about 2 cups but it varied according to how many you were serving. This ratio would make enough for about 8 people)–but I now also hear it from Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian friends that I know who make the stuff all the time).

  7. raincoaster February 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    You’d think it would have been drilled into my head, too, but apparently not. Now I can’t set foot in Winterpeg again without risking my life! I stand corrected.

  8. Pani Perogie February 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    When in Portland get your delicious homemade perogies at:

    St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church
    8014 SE 16th Avenue
    Portland, Oregon
    97209

    Every Saturday from 11:00 am-2:00 pm

  9. Madame Suggia February 27, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Ah, the heady delights of eating normally after the removal of the gallbladder! Yes, I remember it well, but I have a little tip for you, borne from long-suffering personal experience. Once things ‘settle down’ in the digestive department, you may well find that you are basically incapable of having a solid poop. Instead, your lavatorial visits will be of a ‘swampy’ nature (sorry, I know this is ever-so-slightly-gross, but what can you do?). Here’s what you do…go to wholefoods (or similar) and get yourself some digestive enzymes. Two before each meal or snack, small glass of water to wash down, you’re good to go (ha!) and those toilet visits become less of a dread, more of a relief. I tell you this because I want you to avoid the FOUR YEARS of toilet misery I suffered. Really.

  10. kmazz February 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Raincoaster, have you tried the Mt. Pleasant Ukrainian church’s occasional suppers? There is one coming up March 4 and I’m curious. I’d love to have some home style pierogis, slatherd with onions sauted in butter, with a honest-to-goodness borscht to start.

  11. raincoaster February 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Madame Suggia, we are a servicey blog and welcome all servicey information. I’m enjoying the “express” version of digestion, as I anticipate losing approximately four metric tonnes of weight by bikini season. I will take your advice, though; indeed, my raw vegan friends would be horrified if I didn’t eat a healthy serving of bacteria daily (something which they would know was inevitable had they ever seen my apartment).

    kmazz, I have only been once, years ago, and am triple booked March 4th, alas. I seem to vaguely recall they’re on Twitter, so I hope I catch the next announcement.

  12. Madame Suggia March 1, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    @ raincoaster

    “express” version of digestion”

    too perfect, ha ha!