Alright, there’s a chance I’ve gone overboard with the Ps in that headline. Yet ever since I wrote P-p-p-p-p-p-pick up a pepper all those years ago, I’ve been itching to let my little finger get another chance at glory on the keyboard.
Pierogi. Poland. I’m afraid it got carried away.
Pierogi provided one of the purest pleasures (OK I’ll stop now. I’m starting to get on my own nerves…) that travel can produce: a brand new experience.
Plural for pieróg, these crescent-shaped dumplings are practically Poland’s national dish. Made from unleavened dough, they’re first boiled and then baked or fried and contain a lucky dip of fillings: oozing sweet-sour cheese, tangy cabbage or sauerkraut, slightly spiced meat, potato or more.
They’ve got that perfect blend of comfort food without the weight of stodge. Plus, they have the element of surprise as you never know which one you’re going to get. And finally? They come with a wonderful range of trivia.
Did you know, for example, that pierogi have their own saint? (St Hyacinth, or Swiety Jacek, in case that piece of life knowledge passed you by. It’s used in an expression to mean “good grief!”)
And how about this: the Proto-Slavic root “pir” means festivity in its various Slavic cognates across Eurasia?
And this: the words in that last sentence actually mean something to some people?!
Yes, a pieróg is no ordinary dumpling.
It’s a delicious, soft, tangy, crispy treat of a dish. And I only wish I’d heard of it sooner.
PS – It’s also suspiciously similar to gyoza in Japan and virtually nothing like the dumplings in Hungary or the ravioli in Italy, which is what the respectable food folk compare it to. If I were tracing the ancestry of food, I’d be placing good money on discovering an illegitimate fling between Japan and modern day Poland somewhere in the 18th century. Like ravioli indeed…Pah!
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com