Pierogi, piroghi, pyrohy . . .

Not just any old dumpling

However it’s spelled in your ethnic dictionary . . . . it spells perfection to me.   I’ve never met a pierogi I didn’t like (well,  those  four costumed ones at the Pirates’ games do get on my nerves a bit,)  but church-lady pierogies can’t be beat.

Yummy by any name

These doughy pockets have always been popular in Pittsburgh, probably because of our large population of Eastern European immigrants.  There’s even a website dedicated to finding the best pierogies in Western PA, called www.pittsburghpierogi.com. So last Friday I joined the quest and found myself winding  through “the bottoms” of McKees Rocks in search of these heaven-sent potato filled packages. There up ahead, like a beacon through thick fog, was the  shiny, golden dome of St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  A group of women (and a sprinkling of men) meets here at the crack of dawn every Friday morning   to make thousands of these little dumplings. The aroma of sauteed onions and butter leads loyal followers down a few steps into the church basement,  where  trays and trays of freshly made pierogies , all rolled and filled by hand, await.

Most of these ladies have been doing this for over 50 years!

I planned on buying a dozen to take home, but succumbed to coaxing from the ladies to try a few. The combination of tender dough and real potato filling (yes, some folks use instant) was . . . oh . .  .so . . .  good.  Father Tim then took me on a tour of his beautiful, icon filled parish, once home away from home for so many Ukrainian immigrants to the Pittsburgh area.  Thank goodness for places like this that held our communities together through thick and thin and continue to keep them strong today. And thank goodness for church ladies.

St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church  is located at 116 Ella Street, McKees Rocks, PA  15136 Phone:  412-331-2362