News / USA

Dumplings Help Keep Culture, Community Alive

Pierogies pop up at Orthodox parishes across US

A to-go serving from St. John's Baptist Ukrainian Church includes a dozen pierogies tossed in melted butter, topped with caramelized onions and served with a generous dollop of sour cream.
A to-go serving from St. John's Baptist Ukrainian Church includes a dozen pierogies tossed in melted butter, topped with caramelized onions and served with a generous dollop of sour cream.

Multimedia

Audio
Deena Prichep

For most Americans, Christmas is over, but Ukrainian, Russian and other Orthodox Christians are preparing for Christmas on January 7. And at the Christmas Eve feast, most of them will eat pierogies. These dumplings are traditionally prepared at home, but in Orthodox churches across the United States, pierogies have become something of a parish industry.

Keeping up with demand

In the basement of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Church - a small parish of about 50 people - a few dozen people are stuffing and shaping potato pierogies by hand.

"It will be around 180 dozens, yes. And when we started, we were making 45 pounds [20 kilos] of potatoes, and that was a lot," says Myra Petrouchtchak, wife of the priest of this parish. "It took us half of Saturday. Now we make 100 pounds [45 kilos] of potatoes, and by one or two o'clock, everybody will be done."

Volunteers scoops out the smooth potato filling to make tray after tray of hand-shaped pierogies in time for Orthodox Christmas.
Volunteers scoops out the smooth potato filling to make tray after tray of hand-shaped pierogies in time for Orthodox Christmas.

The church had to increase production because the pierogies developed a following beyond the parish.

"People come here and say that those pierogies remind them about their childhood. Not only Ukrainian people, some German people, Polish people. And it's like, 'Oh, my grandmother used to do that,'" says Petrouchtchak.

Petrouchtchak and her husband started weekly pierogie sales when they came to the church five years ago. They raised enough money to renovate the church basement. But from the beginning, it was about more than just food or a fundraiser.

Holding on to tradition

"It was also good for the parish as a community," says Petrouchtchak. "Because many young women didn't know how to make pierogies, or didn't have time to make pierogies at home. But here, all children can learn how to do it, and carry on the tradition."

Even the youngest members of the kids' table can shape circles of homemade dough into traditional potato pierogies.
Even the youngest members of the kids' table can shape circles of homemade dough into traditional potato pierogies.

There are many young people present who will carry on the tradition. Little kids carry trays from the kitchen while their older siblings help shape pierogies. The adults get something out of making pierogies, too.

"It's a great way to socialize," says Andrea Roelofs, a third-generation Ukrainian-American. "If they come in, and they're a little frustrated with something, by the time they leave, they're fine. It's cheaper than a psychologist."

The treat is especially delicious topped with sour cream and caramelized onions. Brian Belo came to try the pierogies, and ended up ordering three dozen for Christmas.

"I grew up with all this back in Pittsburgh, so I've been looking for it here for a couple years, and now I've found it," he says.

As it turns out, the pierogies aren't totally traditional. Usually they'd be made with a bit of cottage cheese. But in a concession to American palates, St. John's uses cheddar cheese instead.

Parish member Mariya Kamsha thinks the results might be a little too good. "My children will say, 'Mom, you know, your pierogies that you make at home, they are not quite that good as the ones that are at the church.'"

Kamsha is wistful about the change. But while the recipe may have evolved, the heart of the tradition - friends and family coming together over pierogies - is not in any danger of dying out.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid