Dumplings are us

Dumplings appear at or near the top of many cultural comfort food lists. Boiled and then sometimes fried, the little calorie bomblets can offer a mind-bending array of fillings.

This came into buttery focus on a recent visit to St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church in northeast Minneapolis. Listen to my Minnesota Sounds and Voices radio report this afternoon as part of All Things Considered to learn more.

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St. Constantine is where more than two dozen volunteers including Maria Mandebur, gather every Friday.

In this photo by MPR’s Jeff Thompson, Maria folds a circular piece of dough around a filling – sauerkraut in this case – and pinches the edges together. The other filling is a potato concoction. With cheese. And of course, don’t forget the butter.

Every Friday from fall to spring, the volunteers prepare pierogi (Polish) or pyrohy (Ukrainian). It’s the same food, just a different name depending on its ethnic roots.

And, jumping ahead to the end of the story, butter seems to be a recurring theme in the recipe including when the fresh pierogi/pyrohy are plated, a dozen at a time, and receive a final drizzle of melted butter.

Happily, Minnesota generally, the Twin Cities specifically, still has enclaves of ethnic food making and eating.

Sadly, these specialties are disappearing as the wise ones with the recipes and expertise squirreled away in their memories, pass on.

That’s what is happening at St. Constantine. A devoted band of older folks are holding on and a smaller cadre of Baby Boomers are learning the recipes.

This culinary gem, the Friday pierogi/pyrohy lunch at St. Constantine, will be around for a while longer, but don’t delay. The ranks of volunteers are graying and starting to thin out.

You won’t regret making a visit to taste an ethnic comfort food and meet folks who’ll be happy to teach you some of their language and culture.

With butter.

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