Q: How do you stop a Polish army on horseback? A: Turn off the carousel.
(The title of the post is only tangentially related to the subject matter. If you’d like to find more Polish jokes, travel back in time to the early/mid 20th century because they’re not a thing anymore)
The main thing I have in common with the good people of the Jersey Shore is that I have a 100% ethnic name, but 0% of the European-ness* to back it up. I mostly don’t care- the name makes me feel a little fancy and foreign- because I mostly don’t have to interact with real Polish people- but on the occasion I come face-to-face with someone from the motherland, I feel more like Snooki at the Colosseum.**
It usually goes down something like this: Polish person hears and or sees my name, gets excited, then says something rapidly in the mother tongue. It’s likely that they are saying, “Do you speak Polish?” or “From where in Poland do you hail?” or perhaps “I like your sweater!” But to me, it just sounds like “You are everything that is wrong with America.” It bums me out to have to tell them that I’m not really one of them- just an ugly American wolf in Polish sheep clothing.***
I’ve tried learning Polish, and tried, I mean once downloaded a dictionary app, looked at all those z’s and l’s with slashes and the endless, inscrutable strings of consonants, and said, “nevermind”.
I do know one word, though. That word is Pierogi. I like it because it’s easy to say, and then also because I like to eat them. Because I’m such an embarrassment to Poland, I actually had never made them from scratch before this, probably because (cue the sad Chopin) my Polish grandmother died when I was a toddler. But she and my grandpa mostly ate pizza and steaks so I don’t know how much help she would have been anyway.
I know my mom has made pierogi but I don’t remember helping (sorry mom), and I know my sisters have made them together because they love each other the most. But now it’s my turn. For the dough, I used a recipe that seemed to get the most “Polish grandma” accolades. The dough is just flour, eggs, and sour cream, which sounds about right. The fillings are where I put my own spin on it. Since I’m kind of Polish but not really, it only seemed appropriate that my pierogi followed suit. So, using the most common flavors you might find in your grocery store freezer as inspiration, I prepared three variations: 1. goat cheese and vinegared blueberry, 2. bacon, potato, and mango chutney-spiked sauerkraut and 3. beer braised Andouille. I served them with a pear mustard compote and crème fraiche.
Oh, and I also fried them, because America.
*A shoutout to Poland for apparently being so absurdly awful that my forefathers thought Milwaukee, WI seemed like a preferable option, thus beginning of the series of random events and happenings that led to my existence as a sentient being and my ability to type this right now.
**Which sounds like it would be a great film of the porn varietal
***probably a track suit and high-heeled sandals, let’s be real