North End Winnipeg has always been the best place to sample melt-in-the-mouth perogies.
The city is blessed with an ethnic population that settled in Canada in the early 1900s. Young people growing up were raised on the cherished recipes brought from their parents’ homelands. Polish, Russian and Ukrainian babas were happy to toil in their kitchens making pierogi (the plural of pierog).
Who could stop at eating one?
We call this delectable comfort food by many names, depending on its origin. Whatever the name, these tender pockets of unleavened dough are filled with sweet or savoury stuffings of potatoes, vegetables, herbs, assorted cheeses and meat and then boiled or deep fried. They are then served piping hot with lots of sour cream sprinkled with bacon bits and fried onions. Just writing about them makes me hungry.
Well-known in central and eastern European countries since the 13th century, pierogi became the national dish of Poland. The most traditional were filled with chicken and called kurniki.
Historians believe the Mongolians brought pierogi to Russia and Marco Polo brought the delicacy from China in the form of won tons and rice-skin dumplings. Residents adapted the fillings to their local ingredients. Originally peasant food, pierogi have become a popular treat for all. Ownership has been claimed by Poles, Romanians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Slovaks.
Ron Naleway, who has been involved in the third-generation Naleway catering business since he was a teenager, opened Perogy Planet at 1411 Main St. a year ago, using his grandma’s dough recipe and combinations like pepperoni pizza, Philly cheese steak, pulled pork and sweet potato, as well as old-time favourites such as cheddar and potato.
The Mr. Perogie brand has opened a concession at Shaw Park where the Goldeyes baseball team struts its stuff.
Karen’s Home Cooking at 803 McPhillips St., sells her "quality, yummy, delicious home-made perogies" and other Ukrainian specialties. She boasts her cooking is "the best in town".
An icon since 1986, Mom’s Perogy Factory at 832 Sinclair St produces and sells its popular cheddar cheese and potato perogies as well as cabbage rolls and sauerkraut perishky, handmade by a staff of 10.
Last but not least, St. Ivan Ukrainian Orthodox Church, at 949 Main St., is offering perogies crafted by the Babas of the congregation in their church basement. Call 204-942-1991 on Thursdays or Fridays. This is the organization’s main fundraiser. One Free Press columnist who tasted them vowed these traditional perogies were "Winnipeg’s finest."
Freda Glow is a community correspondent for the North End.