With cabbage and mushrooms, meat, fruit or Russian ones? When it comes to pierogi – it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like them! However, you may be surprised to learn that this Polish national delicacy is also celebrating its culinary triumphs overseas. The 8th of October is celebrated as National Pierogi Day in the USA.
Pierogi have probably been known in Poland since the 13th century. They were probably brought from the Far East via Ruś. It is said that Bishop Jacek Odrowąż became enamoured with their taste during his stay in Kyiv.
Pierogi came to the United States along with immigrants from Poland. At first, it was only a dish in the homes of immigrants and Polish restaurants. After the Second World War, thanks to church events, pierogi were tasted by Americans. And so, from 1960, pierogi became one of the recognisable products on the shelves of American supermarkets. The only difference is that Poles treat pierogi as the main course, while Americans often serve them as a starter.
The word “pierogi” refers to a dish made of boiled, baked or deep-fried dough, thinly rolled out and filled with a variety of fillings.
Pierogi have become so ingrained in American cuisine that they have even had their own festivals. The oldest of these – the ‘Pierogi Fest’, which has been organised since 1995 and was even registered as a trademark in 2007 – takes place in the town of Whiting, Indiana, not far from Chicago (It usually takes place in July – ed.). In addition to presentations of Polish shops and merchandise prepared by the local Polish community, this festival is famous for attractions such as a parade in the pierogi section, musical performances and even elections for “Miss Paczki” and “Mr Pierogi”. In previous years – before the coronavirus pandemic – the event attracted around 300,000 people each year.
The popular event of the Polish community of Whiting was envied by the residents of Edwardsville, more than 1 000 km away, who decided to organise a “competitive” “Pierogi Festival”. Despite the event’s more modest budget and the distance separating the two cities, it was the pierogi that played a bone of contention among American Polonia! In 2017, the organisers of both festivals met in court, fighting over the right to host a pierogi picnic.
Fortunately, tasty food has a calming effect on people’s manners, and indeed, pierogi lovers don’t care in which US state – or any other country – they eat their delicacy! Today, we wish all pierogi eaters a delicious pierogi picnic and greet the American Polish community!