Family, Food and Drink

Food And Drink Post: Weirdest Holiday Foods Edition

Well. Lugubrious Joe and Gurning Anthony notwithstanding, 2021 proceeds apace, and we’re on the cusp of closing out its first quarter.** Yikes.

But before we do, here’s St. Patrick’s Day, not a big seller in the land of my birth, but huge in the two areas I’ve lived in, in my adopted country–Boston and Pittsburgh.

It’s the holiday that always “springs” (see what I did there?) to mind when I think of revolting unusual celebratory foodstuffs. Green beer. Virulent green bagels. Green donuts. Artificially colored anything that can pass mustard (ouch, again) with enough FD&C Green No. 3 added to give it that special relevance on the day. Ice cream. Mashed potatoes (a bit of a twofer, there, at least if you’re Irish). Anything.

I usually stay home and enjoy my not-assistedly-verdant corned beef, carrots, and cabbage in peace.

Cry ‘God for Harry, England and St. Oprah!’ Umm….No.

Hoots mon and och aye! Whoops.

Cymru am byth!  Blast. That’s not right either.

Éire go Brách! Phew. I think I’ve got it. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

And before anyone else says it, and for as long as I can get away with it, Póg Mo Thóin!

A little more reflection sends me back to the very early 1980s, when Mr. Right and I were still living in Pittsburgh, and one cold and rainy Easter Sunday afternoon that I was desperate to find something to do with the kids.

I can’t remember what else was on the menu for dinner, but Jenny and I decided to make pierogies to go with it. And as we kneaded the dough, and prepared the fillings, we decided to give the finished product a special little fillip to make it fit the day. Bring out the red, green, blue, and yellow food color!

At the end of our experiment, with a little care and discreet use of the dye, we had four little wads of dough in four different colors: pink, light green, pale blue, and delicate yellow.

Easter Pierogies. I wish I had a photo.

Here’s the pierogi recipe I always use. It’s on page 253 of Polish Cookery (I have an earlier edition than this one), by Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa. She sounds as if she gets her Polish privilege authentically all round, so, please, no pushback from the Food Justice Warriors.

PIROGEN OR DOUGH POCKETS (Pierogi)

Basic Dough:
2 cups flour
2 small, or 1 large egg
Few spoonfuls lukewarm water

Mix flour, eggs, and water and work dough until firm. [Pro tip: I stick it in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook and let it rip for about five minutes, until it’s firm and elastic].

Divide in two parts, and roll each piece into a thin sheet on a floured board. Arrange stuffing by the spoonful along one edge of a piece of dough, 2-3 inches from the edge. Fold over and cut out in the shape of semi-circles with a pastry cutter or glass. [Pro tip: No matter what recipe you use for pierogies, cutting them out this way (I use a glass) eliminates the need for a second round of “sealing” the edges of the dough, and almost completely eliminates any separation or leakage when they’re put in boiling water to simmer. Highly recommended. Also, don’t overfill the little pockets.]

Repeat until dough and filling have been used up. If necessary, scoop up, re-roll leftover dough and repeat. [If I have to do this, I give it about a ten minute resting period before rolling it out again.]

Cook in boiling [I use slow simmering] water like noodles, covered so they will steam. When they rise to the top, they are done. Serve with melted butter.

Unaccountably, she leaves out any mention of the holiday-appropriate food coloring.

There are countless fillings you can put in your pierogies, and she lists several. My family’s favorites are mashed potato with finely chopped and gently sautéed onions; ricotta cheese (substitutes for old-fashioned pot cheese) with egg and onions); and sauerkraut. They can also be filled with mushrooms, or even fruit for a sweet dessert.

After they’ve simmered and cooked, we fry them in butter, with onions. The ones that are left over (whatever filling is in them), we sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

What weird holiday foods have you made or enjoyed, either deliberately, accidentally, out of desperation, or just because? Please share.

**Pretty soon, I’ll begin to regret taking the Christmas tree down. I know I will. I always do.

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