I’m Polish. Like hella Polish. (My name is Kasia Jaworski. Come on.) Because I’m so Polish, I’ve grown up with traditional Polish food at every major holiday. Especially pierogies (which my computer keeps wanting to change to “groupies” haha). Maybe you’ve had them. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on probably one of my favorite things in life.
Every Christmas my Polish grandmother, Baci (pronounced “Bachi”) would make them and they are one of the main reasons why I love Christmas so much. When she passed away this past August, I decided I would take it on myself to make them this year. A pretty tall order right? But I was determined. I found her recipes and everything. Someone had to make them and that someone would be me.
Only two problems. 1. I wasn’t quite sure how to fill in the blanks from her recipe. and 2. I got the worst cold of my life Christmas Eve-Eve.
Solution 1: my family members and I started asking every Polish person we knew about pierogies. This includes and is not limited to: our Polish banker, my Polish haircutter, the boy in my sociology class that mentioned in passing he made them before. We got tips and tricks and recommendations and warnings and words of encouragement. Blanks filled in.
Solution 2: Harder than I thought. Problem number two was definitely a damper on my plans. When I imagined making pierogies, I saw myself doing it solo. Like my own special way to honor Baci because I was the only grandchild who learned how to make them. But no amount of DayQuil could get me off the couch Christmas Eve, leaving the pierogies to someone else. Or, we just would have to wait till Easter.
Well. My family didn’t want to wait till Easter.
My mom and sister spent a good two hours making the potato filling, experimenting with the amount of farmer’s cheese and salt. When I eventually got up, I found them rolling out the dough and my dad preparing to use a glass cup to cut it. What I thought was going to be a solo project turned into a family affair: My dad would roll and cut, my sister and I would fill and form and my mom would boil and strain. We moved effortlessly through our assembly line, laughing about how bad my dad was at everything except rolling the dough and excitedly watching the little pierogies pop up in the boiling water when they were done.
On Christmas Day, my family enjoyed traditional pierogies. No, they weren’t as good as Baci’s, but they were a spectacular first attempt. We discussed what could make them better, what could be added and what could be changed. Baci definitely didn’t write down everything she did, so it’s up to my whole family to figure it out. And I know that one day, we’ll all figure out the perfect recipe.
While I selfishly wanted to become the “pierogie maker” of the family, I couldn’t have done it without my mom, dad and sister. And, for someone like Baci who loved her family more than anything, this family twist on a new tradition would make her very, very happy.
Here’s to Polish Pride & my wonderful family.