A plated vision of love and tradition.
by Marcy Harris
The first time I ever had pierogi was in college. I will never forget the sheer joy on a friend’s face when he set down a steaming plateful in front of me. With a big smile, he cut into the buttery dumplings and showed me how to scoop up sour cream and sauerkraut in each forkful. A few years later, when I was living in Ukrainian Village in Chicago, it didn’t take me very long to find the Polish delis down the street from my apartment offering pierogi made fresh daily. I devoured them every week as a treat, each one a pocket full of flavor.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I almost flipped (with excitement) like a pierog in a pan when I found out they are going to be a special on the menu at the Roadhouse. We are bringing them in from Srodek’s, a family owned Polish deli in Hamtramck, and serving them up with caramelized onions and Brinery sauerkraut. We sautée them in butter until golden brown, a pillow of creamy, fluffy potato filling unfolding in every bite.
A pocket full of memories…
Pierogi are steeped in tradition as much as they are in butter, and like so many foods we enjoy today as a result of immigration, they are a big part of bringing family together–an expression of love. One of our veteran servers, Stacie Zernicke, remembers her grandmother’s pierogi fondly. Mary Margaret Polanski would make them for Stacie and her family in Erie, Pennsylvania when Stacie was young. Pierogi can be made with a variety of filling, and Stacie’s grandmother filled hers with potato, onion, and cheese. Stacie loves to cook up batches of her grandmother’s pierogi for friends at our weekly game night, and they are among the best I’ve ever tasted.
We named our pierogi after a man who was a much loved member of the Zingerman’s family, to honor his memory and his Polish heritage. Stas’ Kazmierski, a retired managing partner at ZingTrain, passed away this past Spring. He taught us the the visioning process, and was so integral to the growth of Zingerman’s, there is not a day that goes by when we are not somehow using what he taught us. Stas’s caring presence in the Zingerman’s Community leaves a legacy not only of how our culture has evolved, but also of the importance behind learning and hearing the stories people share:
“The reason I’m so proud to be a partner at Zingerman’s is because we just give all the knowledge and information to the employees and…to the world. Yeah, you have to make a living but when it comes to sharing food and information there’s an abundance and you gotta give it away. Others share it and gain from it.” –Stas’ Kazmierski
There are countless stories behind this amazing Polish dish, and no matter what they are filled with, one thing is for sure, they are always filled with love. But don’t forget the sauerkraut, too!