By Chason Gordon
– The Capitol Hill Times -
Whenever a festival advertises “All you can eat,” I tend not to read the rest of the sentence (sold!). But Saturday’s All You Can Eat Pierogi Festival at the Polish Home happened to feature the titan of the food-stuffed-in-dough empire – pierogi. Sure, there are gyozas and wontons and raviolis and momos, and they certainly have their place, but that place is below my beloved pierogi, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul (sorry, too much Nabokov lately).
Witness the perfection that is pierogi. The contours are sleek and aerodynamic and a perfect delivery system for the sweet jewel inside. Within the outer ridges is a pillowy softness, forgiving to the touch, yet sturdy and domelike, signaling to the handler that the delicious filling isn’t going anywhere.
In Polish the word “pierogi” is actually the plural form for the rarely used word “pierog,” because no one eats just one pierog (in America we tend to use “pierogi” as the singular and “pierogies” as plural, but in honor of the Polish, I will refrain from that).
Though it had only been four days since I had pierogi, I was nevertheless overjoyed to head to the festival (don’t worry, I will tell you where to find pierogi below). Hundreds came out to the Polish Home at 18th and East Madison to listen to folk music, look at the crafts, and generally celebrate Polish culture. But most of the attendees stood in a long line (with me) for all you can eat pierogi (you might say we were packed in like pierogi, but that wouldn’t make sense).
The spread featured various types of pierogi, including meat, cherry, and cabbage, but it was all about the potato cheese tray, which had to be refilled more often than any of the others (the plum pierogi sat lonely at the end of the row, rarely refilled, like a tub of black licorice).
In a potato cheese haze I managed to catch a pierogi-making demo, and though I tried to pay attention, all I came away with was that you need flour and water, and oh God why did I eat so many pierogi? I wanted to try the other Polish delicacies, and listen to more of the White Eagle Band from Victoria, but I had to go home and take a nap.
If you missed the event, fret not, for the Polish Home (known as Dom Polski) regularly serves nearly everything that was available at the festival (it’s open Friday night from 6 to 10, and Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4). I can’t recommend it enough.
It’s clear to me in my convalescence that pierogi are the purest form of civilization. We stare down at the blank anonymity of the dough and trust that someone did the right thing and put something delicious inside. If there is a better manifestation of the Golden Rule, I haven’t found it.
So it’s about time you made pierogi a part of your life again. For novices and fellow pierogi aficionados, below is a list of where to find them, in case you’re tired of relying on Mrs. T’s.
In and around Capitol Hill:
Polish Home Association
1714 18th Ave, 206-322-3020
George’s Sausage & Delicatessen
907 Madison St., 206-622-1491
Piroshki on Madison
1219 Madison St., 206-624-1295
Off the Hill:
1530 Post Alley, Ste 3A, 206-521-9054
Pel’Meni Dumpling Tzar
3516 Fremont Ave N, 206-588-2570